ANCHORAGE - Juneau-Douglas was never able to get into an offensive groove against a tall and talented Wasilla squad Monday, and the Warriors cruised to a 69-46 boys' basketball 4A state tournament win over the Crimson Bears at Sullivan Arena.
"I thought we finally started to play in the fourth quarter, but that was a little bit too late," JDHS coach Steve Potter said. "Wasilla was more under control, they did what they wanted to do and we were not able to disrupt them at all."
Where JDHS never found sustained continuity in its offense, the Warriors seemingly couldn't miss at times, especially under the basket.
"We've been playing smaller, guard-oriented teams, and it was a big, drastic difference compared to what we were used to playing," said JDHS senior forward Paul Tupou, the JDHS player of the game with nine points and six rebounds. "We had a hard time dealing with their length and their height.
"They were really hot in the beginning and that sort of put a damper on us," he continued. "We'd get something going and then we'd lose focus because the score was such a downer."
Wasilla shot 26-for-47 on the night, good for 55 percent, while the Bears shot just 16-for-46, including an abysmal 6 of 25 in the first half while the Warriors built a 36-17 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.
"We weren't able to ... disrupt their flow," Potter said. "The word we got was to speed them up, and, unfortunately, we sped them up into lay-ups, which isn't really the idea."
The biggest run JDHS was able to string together was a 6-0 spurt in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 27-15, but that came after a 10-0 Wasilla run, and before another 9-0 run.
To make matters worse, the Bears turned the ball over 20 times, giving away 28 points.
JDHS came out after the break and still couldn't string together points to cut into the deficit. Tupou said it was the little things the Bears overlooked.
"We knew we could play better, so you just try to do the small things. You can't overlook the small things," he said. "You have to do everything and we were doing some of the big things, but leaving the small, important things out that left people open under the basket."
Junior forward Colin Gozelski agreed the change in style of play hurt the Bears. Gozelski had to work for his five total points against the mammoth front line of Wasilla, which included 6-foot-8 sophomore center Connor Devine, who had five blocks in the first half.
"I think it was us playing Ketchikan too many times in a row," he said. "We're used to a small, fast-paced team. I think the big, tall team messed with our minds and we couldn't get over it."
JDHS hung tough in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Warriors 21-20.
But the season isn't yet over, as the Bears face Dimond in today's consolation round matchup at 9:45 a.m. Dimond lost a heartbreaker in the game of the day to Soldotna.
The Stars' Blaine Carver beat the Lynx on a dramatic stickback at the buzzer for a 78-76, double-overtime victory before the JDHS-Wasilla matchup.
JDHS - Ibesate 0-1 0-0 0, Gozelski 2-8 1-3 5, Saviers 1-2 0-0 2, Yadao 6-10 0-0 15, Wilson 1-4 3-6 5, Fenumiai 0-0 0-0 0, DeRocher 1-9 2-2 4, Wheat 0-0 0-2 0, Calloway 0-2 2-2 2, Gross 1-1 2-2 4, Sele 0-1 0-0 0, Tupou 4-8 1-2 9. TOTALS 16-46 11-19 46.
WASILLA - Schierman 0-3 0-0 0, Quenga 0-1 1-2 1, Mock 1-2 2-2 4, Kuiper 2-7 3-3 7, Stahle 2-2 2-2 7, Bydlon 0-0 2-2 2, Pfeifer 8-12 2-3 19, Devine 4-6 1-1 9, Pine 0-1 0-0 0, Ford 6-10 0-0 14, Green 3-3 0-0 6. TOTALS 26-47 13-15 69.