A strong second-half and clutch free-throw shooting propelled the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team past host Ketchikan 64-58 on Saturday.
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The Crimson Bears (18-3, 7-0 Southeast) sealed a first-round bye in next week's Southeast Conference region tournament with Saturday's win. They also extended their season-best winning streak to 13 games.
"It means we win the league," JDHS first-year coach Steve Potter said. "We overcame some adversity and I thought we did a good job of hanging together and, in the end, we just wore them down and that's OK. That's part of what we're trying to do."
With senior Will Egolf mired in foul trouble, senior big man Clae Baker stepped up and delivered a big night. The 6-foot-6 Baker scored a team-high 17 points to lead the Bears.
Egolf added 11 points in the win before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
"He didn't step outside of his game," Potter said of Baker. "I think he maybe took one shot that I didn't like and that's pretty good. He played huge minutes, more minutes than I normally play him because of Will's foul trouble."
JDHS knocked down 11 of 15 free throws in the final quarter to seal the win. The Bears hit 17 of 24 free throws in the win.
Those free throws proved crucial in Saturday's tight contest. Neither team led by more than seven points.
"If you're going to be a good team you have to do that," Potter said. "Guys made free throws, and it's tough to come back when a team is making their free throws."
The free throws turned out to be critical as Ketchikan received a big scoring night from Damen Bell-Holter. The 6-foot-9 junior center poured in a game-high 28 points to buoy the Kings (16-5, 4-3).
With Ketchikan leading 28-27 at halftime, Juneau-Douglas received a spark from its big men to take a lead it would not relinquish.
The Crimson Bears opened the third quarter on a 7-1 run as Baker scored four points and Egolf converted a three-point play after being fouled on a shot.
After Bell-Holter cut Juneau's lead to 34-31 with a bucket, Ryan Larson responded with a 3-pointer to put some distance between the Bears and Kings.
"I think what it was, was we just adjusted a little better to their physical play," Potter said of the second half.
With the regular-season conference title on the line, JDHS and Kayhi played a seesaw first half.
Both teams exchanged the lead 14 times as Paul Manabat's steal and score gave Ketchikan a 28-27 halftime edge.
JDHS point guard Nico Saldivar scored 11 points in the win and made 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter. Larson scored 10 points and Dominique Brinson added six points in the win.
For Kayhi, Matt Boyd scored 12 points, and Eric Bezenek added 10 points.
The two teams play again at 2 p.m. today. JDHS will play either Sitka or Ketchikan on Friday in the regional tournament final.
In junior varsity action Saturday, Juneau-Douglas defeat Ketchikan 68-58 behind 16 points from Eric Gross.
Sean Bavard scored 12 points, Billy Sarandria added 10 points, and Alex Fagerstrom poured in nine points for JDHS. Geoff Craig scored seven points, Philip Derbesy had five points, Reese Saviers scored three points, and Brian Lauth tallied two points in the win.
Cory White poured in a team-high 14 points for Ketchikan's JV.
Ketchikan's C team won its game 68-60 over JDHS on Saturday.
Trent Headley scored 14 points, Kevin Manabat had 13 points and David Klien tallied 12 points for Kayhi.
Victor Wilson scored 12 points and was one of four JDHS players in double-figures. Alex DeRocher and Saviers chipped in 11 points each and Dylan Baker contributed 10 points in defeat. Also for JDHS, Cody Grussendorf scored nine points, Jake Monagle had three points while Dominic Holloway and Torey Franzen had two points each.
JDHS 64, Ketchikan 58
JDHS - 13 14 17 20 - 64
Kayhi - 14 14 12 18 - 58
JDHS (64) - Brinson 6, Saldivar 11, Larson 10, Clark 2, Egolf 11, Cook 3, Baker 17, Levale 4.
Kayhi (58) - Manabat 2, Yonker 1, Boyd 12, Scudero 4, Bezenek 10, Norton 1, Bell-Holter 28.
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