From the start, Alida Bus sank her teeth into high school activities.
And that's more than just a figure of speech for Bus, a Juneau-Douglas High School senior who this weekend - along with four teammates - will be playing the last home basketball games of her career.
The Crimson Bears host the Ketchikan Kings tonight and Saturday for the last games of the regular season. Varsity games begin at 8 p.m. each night at the JDHS main gym, with junior varsity matches at 6:15 p.m. and C team games at 4:15 p.m.
As a freshman in December 2000, Bus and teammate Anna Capacci were scolded by former girls basketball coach Jim Hamey for not screening during a drill. During the next drill "we both had our minds on screening, we didn't communicate and we ran into each other," Bus said.
Bus' right front tooth broke off and was embedded in Capacci's scalp. Some quick dental work saved Bus' smile, and she kept the broken tooth as a keepsake.
"It represents ... working hard all the time," Bus said.
That applies far beyond the gym for Bus. While dedicated to basketball, she is aware of and very involved in possibilities beyond. Her other activities include the Interact Club, National Honor Society, student council, soccer, Link crew and the Ocean Science Bowl - all while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
Bus said she got involved in activities "for diversity, to meet different people and to give something back, to make a difference."
On the Link crew, she has helped freshmen get oriented to JDHS in their first year at the school. The Interact Club, a Rotary community-service group for high schoolers, conducted a homeless awareness campaign and raised money for the cause last November by spending a night outside in a school parking lot.
"She's one of the most caring people I know, always making sure everyone is having a good time," said Laura Flynn, a JDHS senior who is in the Interact Club and plays soccer with Bus. "She's really well-rounded."
Bus' efforts are noticed by her basketball team.
"She has an incredible head on her shoulders for a teenager," Crimson Bear girls coach Lesslie Knight said. "She's thoughtful, courteous, socially conscious."
"Alida sets a great example for the girls who have been playing with her (for years) and for young players who are just getting to know her," senior Kendri Cesar said.
Bus said the secret to balancing a full schedule of activities is good time management - setting priorities, and having the focus to see them through.
But for all her other interests, basketball - especially at this time of year - takes precedence.
"It's been my identity in high school," Bus said. "It's given me good friends, and it has taught me work ethic, teamwork, cooperation and dedication."
Athletic activity has been a part of Bus' life for as long as she can remember; she played basketball throughout middle school and has been on the Crimson Bear varsity squad for four years. She is the daughter of Nico and Susan Bus, and her older brother, Leon, also played basketball for the Crimson Bears.
On the court, Bus' trademark is her versatility. She can make a move inside to the hoop, or stay on the perimeter and "thread the needle" with "incredible" passes, Knight said.
Bus also prides herself on playing with intensity and enthusiasm. As a younger player, she admired those traits in Juneau players Kari and Suzanne Parr, and Courtney Mason.
"They were my heroes," Bus said. "They went all-out in games. Their style of play was awesome to watch."
That style of play figures into one of Bus' dream plays.
"I want to take a charge; I've never taken a charge," she said. "If you take a charge, it means you're playing good defense. I can just imagine being in that moment, getting excited."
Bus' court skills are heightened by the senior teammates - Kendri Cesar, Heather Dillon, Nicole Lupro and Tasha McKoy - she has played and practiced with for years.
"They're an incredible unit, and they function so well together," Knight said. "They work hard. There's never a day when they're off."
Each senior will carry something different from this weekend's games. Bus, who is leaning toward attending Colorado State University next fall, will savor the team's entrance - bursting through a tear-away sign on a hoop held by the Crimson Bear cheerleaders.
"It'll be emotional," she said. "It's so exciting to run through that hoop. That's definitely going to be one of my favorite memories, running through the hoop with the pep band playing."
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.