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The Sitka boys basketball team has the chance to play spoiler in the waning regular season. The Juneau boys want to make sure the Wolves wait a week.
Juneau-Douglas High School will close out its regular season with a pair of road games against Sitka today and Saturday.
The Crimson Bears (8-11 overall, 4-2 Southeast Conference-Class 4A) are tied atop the region standings with Ketchikan (13-6 overall, 4-2 SE). Kayhi will host Sitka (8-9 overall, 0-4 SE) in both teams' final regular-season games on March 11-12.
If the Crimson Bears and Kings win their final games, the top seed and first-round bye at the Southeast tournament will be decided by tiebreakers. But a slip-up by one team against Sitka could hand the regular-season title to the other.
"It's getting down to the end of the regular season, so it's time to step up and start playing our best basketball of the year," Juneau coach George Houston said.
Juneau is coming off a hard-fought weekend split at home against Ketchikan. The Bears beat Kayhi by nine points on Friday, then lost by a single point on Saturday.
Juneau sophomore post Will Egolf saw a fair amount of action coming off a foot injury, but his playing time likely will be limited again this weekend. Junior Scott Lesh was injured in Saturday's game but is expected to return.
Sitka posted a weekend home split against Class 3A Barrow, including a triple-overtime win over the Whalers. Sitka senior Andrew Broschat scored 38 points in that game, and fellow senior Manfred Bekeris added 23.
Juneau swept Sitka in a pair of home games a month ago. In the opener, the Crimson Bears built an early lead but had to hang on for a 63-52 win. On the second night, Sitka led early and the game was tied at halftime before Juneau picked up its defensive intensity and pulled away in the second half for a 53-36 win.
Broschat and Bekeris were Sitka's top scorers in the series, while Juneau senior Tom Derbesy led the way in a very balanced Juneau offense.
"We struggled here a little bit with Sitka. They played us tough," Houston said of the season's first series. "It's (Sitka's) senior night, so they'll be extremely jazzed and ready to play."
Sitka coach Mike Blewett said the Wolves are expecting a challenge this weekend, but are confident about their chances.
"This is an important game for us to establish we can play with them," he said. "I'm optimistic with where we're at."
The Juneau Empire sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org