SITKA - The top-ranked Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team will return to the state tournament for a second-straight year after defeating Ketchikan for the Class 4A Southeast Region championship Friday at Mount Edgecumbe High School in Sitka.
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The Crimson Bears upended the Kings 77-65 to win their 15th consecutive game.
Ketchikan's 6-foot-9 junior, Damen Bell-Holter, racked up a game-high 27 points, but Juneau's Clae Baker, Will Egolf and Cameron Cook all answered with double-digit point totals to get the win.
"We knew it would be tough and physical, but we wore them down in the end," JDHS first-year coach Steve Potter said. "(Bell-)Holter is a very good player, but we've got a lot more guys on our team. I thought everyone played great."
After leading 37-36 at halftime, Juneau-Douglas poured it on in the second half to seal the title.
The Crimson Bears led by seven after three quarters and by as much as 17 points in the fourth quarter to win the game.
Juneau-Douglas came out strong from the game's onset, ending the first quarter with a 10-point lead.
Ketchikan rallied in the second quarter as it started to find the range and draw fouls. Bell-Holter's slam dunk brought the Kings within two points midway through the second quarter.
Bell-Holter scored five of his 27 points in the final 53 seconds of the first half to cut Juneau's lead to one at halftime.
Juneau-Douglas' depth proved too much, however, as nine players scored for the Bears.
Baker led JDHS with 16 points, while Egolf added 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Cook contributed 11 points.
Class 4A Boys
Nico Saldivar, JDHS
Clae Baker, JDHS
Will Egolf, JDHS
Damen Bell-Holter, Ketchikan
Matt Boyd, Ketchikan
Ryan Peters, Sitka
Also for JDHS, Nico Saldivar scored nine points, Dominique Brinson and Robert Beierly scored eight points each, and Ryan Larson tallied six points. Sophomore forward Eric Gross scored four points, and Sam Clark had two points.
The Crimson Bears made 22 of 31 free throws, while Ketchikan drained 22 of 36.
JDHS will represent the Southeast Conference in the state championship in two weeks. The Bears will face their quarterfinal opponent on March 22 at Service High School. Brackets will be released today.
3A/4A CROSSOVER GAME
JDHS 56, Petersburg 49
Juneau-Douglas withstood a stiff challenge from Class 3A champion Petersburg to win a second-straight crossover championship.
The Crimson Bears (21-3), ranked first in the Alaska Sportswriters and Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network prep basketball polls, held off a late charge by the Vikings (22-3), the state's top 3A team according to the ASBN, to win the title.
"In the second half, we got the ball to Will (Egolf)," JDHS coach Steve Potter said. "They could not stop him. (Petersburg) has experience playing big guys. They played (Ketchikan's 6-foot-9 center Damen) Bell-Holter and a 6-foot-9 kid from Mount Edgecumbe. They have strategies, but they couldn't guard Will."
Egolf scored a game-high 16 points, 11 of which game in the second half.
"Starting the third quarter, we went to Will, and I think he scored six straight points for us. He also hit cutters and passed the ball better than recently."
Potter said the Crimson Bears came out a little flat as they led 24-19 at halftime.
The team rebounded to take a 38-32 lead after three quarters and went on to win a second-straight crossover title.
Caleb Severson, Trevor McCay and David Mazzella had 13 points each in defeat.
"They're tough," Potter said of Petersburg. "They have a lot of team speed. Their guys run their stuff pretty well. They got that Severson kid who is outstanding, and McCay, some colleges are looking at him."
For JDHS, Clae Baker had 11 points while Cameron Cook scored 10 points.
Cook also played a solid defensive game as he guarded McCay and Severson.
"He guarded their best two players, and he didn't get a lot of rest," Potter said. "I thought he had a great tournament. ... I thought he and (Robert) Beierly had some of their better games in the tournament."
Juneau-Douglas 77, Ketchikan 65
JDHS - 21 16 16 24 - 77
Kayhi - 11 25 10 19 - 65
JDHS (77) - Brinson 8, Saldivar 9, Larson 6, Clark 2, Beierly 8, Gross 4, Cook 11, Baker 16, Egolf 13.
Ketchikan (65) - Yonker 8, Boyd 9, Scudero 5, Bezenek 8, Norton 8, Bell-Holter 27.
Juneau-Douglas 56, Petersburg 49
JDHS - 14 10 14 18 - 56
PHS - 9 10 13 17 - 49
JDHS (56) - Brinson 5, Saldivar 5, Larson 3, Clark 1, Beierly 4, Egolf 16, Cook 10, Baker 11, Levale 1.
Petersburg (49) - J. Mazzella 5, Smith 5, McCay 13, Severson 13, D. Mazzella 13.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, contributed to this report.