Saturday's 70-49 loss to the Sitka Wolves had the chilling effect of a slap in the face.
The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team had been cruising along during a six-game winning streak, when Saturday's loss slapped the Crimson Bears back into reality. In other words, the Crimson Bears are good, but not so good they can't afford to look past an opponent.
"I think James (Severin, a Juneau forward) said it best after the game," Juneau coach George Houston said. "He said, 'If this doesn't wake us up, nothing will.'"
The loss, Juneau's first in Region V-Class 4A action this season, came one day after the Crimson Bears needed a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left in the game to beat Sitka 51-50, clinching the top seed and first-round bye in the region tournament. In that game, Juneau led by 14 points at halftime and seemed on the way to a rout, only to have the Wolves come back and take their first lead on a pair of free throws by Greg Blankenship with eight seconds left.
Now the Crimson Bears are looking to put last week's swoon behind them.
The Crimson Bears (13-7 overall, 5-1 region) head south for a pair of games against the Ketchikan Kings at 6:15 p.m. tonight and 8 p.m. Saturday night at Ketchikan High School's Clarke Cochrane Memorial Gym. These are the final games of the regular season for both teams, and it will be senior weekend for Ketchikan (8-12 overall, 1-5 region). The games will be broadcast in Juneau on KINY, 800-AM.
"We're going to try. We'd better," guard Curtis Lane said after Wednesday night's practice when asked if Juneau was looking to move beyond the loss. "Sitka outrebounded us by 17 and they outhustled us. We're Juneau and that means Southeast teams come out a lot harder against us, just because we're Juneau. We do have a bulls-eye on us. Today we had a pretty good practice, so hopefully we'll be better this weekend."
"Like I said after the game, we needed a wake-up call," Severin said. "We'd had a six- or seven-game winning streak and I think we were beginning to think we were unbeatable. We won that first game, and it was an emotional win because we fell behind and came back. We were probably still thinking about it the next night and they overran us."
Juneau swept Ketchikan Feb. 16-17, winning 73-34 on Friday and 82-58 on Saturday. But this is a different Ketchikan team than the one Juneau faced three weekends ago.
The Kings were missing two of their starters -- off-guard Braden Sharp and center-forward Brandon Nicholas -- that weekend. And, in the second game, Ketchikan was hanging tough in the second half when guard Russell Miller was ejected for preparing to throw a punch at Juneau guard Clay Brown. With two of Ketchikan's top three guards sidelined, and point guard T.J. Milner fighting foul trouble, Juneau was finally able to break the game open.
"We expect Miller will come back with a vengeance," Severin said. "We can't overlook them."
The Kings are also coming off a bitter loss, having lost 64-53 to Class 3A Metlakatla last Thursday. Ketchikan was missing forward Kenny Terpsma, the team's top outside-shooting threat, because he was on a college baseball recruiting trip. Terpsma, Sharp and Nicholas will all be back this weekend.
"We may not have point guard T.J. Milner, who sprained his ankle earlier in the week, but that seems par for the course for us," Ketchikan coach John Brown said. "We did get one of our injured players -- Matt Valentic -- back from a back injury, and he's 6-2 or 6-3 and will help us inside. We're going to be a lot deeper, and that will give us options if guys get into foul trouble."