SITKA - For the eighth time in nine years, the Juneau-Douglas girls' basketball team is the 4A Southeast Conference tournament champion.
Sarah Tarver scored 15 points, Brittany Fenumiai and Annette Highley had 11 each, and the Crimson Bears beat Ketchikan 58-48 Friday at Mt. Egdecumbe High School's B.J. McGillis Gymnasium.
"We were so excited when the buzzer went off after the fourth quarter," JDHS forward Taylor Larson said. "It was an amazing feeling."
The Crimson Bears delivered an efficient performance against the Kings, then cut down the nets as owners of the tournament championship and the region's lone state tournament ticket.
JDHS led most of the game, building a 14-11 lead after one quarter and a 25-21 advantage at the half. The Crimson Bears led 34-30 late in the third quarter before launching an 11-0 run that spanned the end of the third and first 3:30 of the fourth, giving them control of the game for good.
"It's a huge relief," Bears coach Lesslie Knight said of winning the region title. "The girls feel a lot of pressure. There's been a rivalry with Ketchikan since middle school.
"We're just thankful we get to go (to state) and it's a bummer they don't get to go with us."
Trailing 49-38 with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter, Ketchikan's senior class launched a last-ditch effort to save its region title hopes.
Ketchikan senior Kathleen Reno hit a free throw to make it 49-39, and a lay-up from senior Alexis Edwardson made it 49-41 at the 1:49 mark.
Juneau restored the lead to 55-43 with less than a minute left, but Ketchikan senior Crystal Blair nailed a 3-pointer - her last shot as a King - to make it 55-46 with 28 seconds to play.
That was as close as the Kings got.
Ketchikan scored 18 points over the final eight minutes but couldn't catch Juneau-Douglas as the Crimson Bears hit 13 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.
"It's never a lack of effort or anything like that," Kings coach Kelly Smith said. "I'm very proud of all the girls."
Nine players scored for Juneau-Douglas as the Crimson Bears finished the region tournament with a perfect 2-0 record. JDHS beat Ketchikan twice, including a 61-57 win over the Kings on Wednesday.
Larson scored 21 points in that game, but had only three Friday as Ketchikan elected to double-team her in the post. That opened up room for the 5-foot-10 Tarver, who scored seven first-quarter points and went 5-for-6 from the free-throw line.
"I'm really happy that my other teammates had their chance to shine tonight," Larson said. "Sarah Tarver had an amazing game tonight."
For Ketchikan, another successful season ended at a familiar roadblock.
Edwardson scored a game-high 18 points, Blair had 17 and Reno had nine, but all three players - along with seniors Ciara Patton, Tess Seierup and Shelayne Greaves - saw their Kings careers come to a close against conference rival Juneau-Douglas.
The Crimson Bears then flattened Sitka 62-26 on Saturday in a 3A-4A crossover game.