On to the next one.
Host Juneau-Douglas won its seventh straight tourney title in two years Friday with a 54-17 pasting of Ketchikan in the 4A girls’ bracket championship of the Region V 3A/4A Basketball Tournament.
Winning — and winning big — has been the norm for the Crimson Bears, who have lost all of three games the last two seasons, with two of the three coming to archrival Ketchikan when the 2009-10 Kings were, at worst, the second-best bunch in the state.
But the champs don’t take victory laps before the state final, a game the Juneau-Douglas program has been a part of four of the last seven years.
“No. Never,” said coach Lesslie Knight, a member of the 1983 JDHS state championship team and a two-time winner as head of the program. “These girls play really well together, they like playing together and being part of this team. Their success is based on chemistry. We don’t look at the wins.
“We have a goal, we’re thankful to be going up north and we’re going to get after it up there.”
The win officially stamped the Bears’ ticket to defend their 4A state crown in two weeks under the bright lights at Anchorage’s Sullivan Center.
Juneau-Douglas is off to the next one, but it did not come without a heavy cost.
Senior forward Sarah Tarver, the inaugural Empire/Daily News/Coaches Southeast Conference Player of the Year, went down in a heap on the game’s opening tip with an apparent ankle injury, silencing an amped-up crowd.
With thoughts focused on their fallen teammate, All-State point guard Karli Brakes said it was tough for the girls to continue, but the show must go on.
“It’s devastating. She’s worked so hard and she’s a huge key to our whole team. If anyone wants somebody on their team, it’s Tarver,” she said. “She’s an all-around — I don’t even know what position she plays. She does everything and she’s a great girl with a great attitude. It was a real bummer when she couldn’t play with us.”
X-rays later that night revealed Tarver has a chipped bone in her ankle, bringing a somber conclusion to another Crimson Bears coronation.
The team is still holding out hope Tarver will be able to play in the state tournament in two weeks, and will know more Monday.
Juneau-Douglas wasn’t quite the same team the rest of the night, but rebuilding Ketchikan was still no match for the champs.
The Bears built a 17-4 lead by the end of the first quarter before slogging through the second, scoring just eight total points to match the Kings’ output the whole first half for a 25-8 lead at the break.
Short-handed Juneau-Douglas came out of the locker room refocused and put on a defensive clinic in the third.
Senior Nani Ostrom quickly got a steal that led to a Brakes 3-pointer. Maria Weyhrauch got another steal and passed to Brakes, who fed Taylor Larson inside for a bucket. Larson got another layup and then a steal, finding Brakes, who dished to Ostrom for an easy layup and a 37-8 lead.
The Bears held the Kings scoreless in the third quarter and took a 42-8 lead into the fourth, where they outscored Ketchikan 12-9 after emptying the bench.
Brakes said the Bears, the No. 2 seed for the state tournament, still have something to prove in Anchorage. Wasilla earned the Winning Percentage Index’ top seed with a 17-2 WPI record against Juneau-Douglas’ 16-1 mark. JDHS beat Wasilla in last year’s state title game, and went 1-1 against the Warriors this season, losing at Wasilla on Jan. 6 before taking the rematch in the Dimond Lady Lynx Prep Shootout in February.
Juneau-Douglas won its 2010-11 conference games by an average of better than 44 points after battling Ketchikan to the buzzer every time for last season’s state bid, and eventual 4A championship.
“We’re a tough team to beat and it’s because we’re hard workers,” Brakes said of the Bears’ ability to come up big when it counts most. “These region games, we just tried to work on what we needed to to prepare for state. We’re excited and we’re going to do our best. There’s some talk that we’re no longer the number one team and we’re number two, but we’re going to go hard no matter what.
It doesn’t matter to us because I’d rather play tougher teams in the bracket to test us. I want us to win because we’re the better team.
JDHS scored 29 points off 27 Ketchikan turnovers, outrebounded the Kings 50-31, got 12 second-chance points to zero and got 23 points off its bench.
Ostrom was the game-high scorer with 11 points, followed by Brakes, Larson and Monica Ashenfelter, who all scored eight. Ostrom also grabbed 11 boards for her first career double-double. Brakes and sister Marissa Brakes combined for nine assists. Gabi Fenumiai scored seven points and pulled down nine boards.
Erin Doherty led Ketchikan with nine points and Jayley Taylor added six.