To prepare his team for Saturday's Southeast championship basketball game, Mount Edgecumbe High School girls coach Paul Johnson showed his team a videotape of the Braves' upset victory over Ketchikan.
Johnson said he hoped showing the tape might inspire his team to another upset Saturday night against the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears, but it wasn't to be.
The Region V-Class 3A champion Braves led the Region V-4A champion Crimson Bears at the end of the first quarter, but Juneau rebounded to claim a 58-40 victory in the annual game that pits the two Region V champions.
Juneau also trailed at the end of the first quarter of the boys Southeast championship game, but the Crimson Bears wore down the Region V-3A champion Craig Panthers and won 100-54.
In the crossover games, which pit the Region V-3A runners-up against the Region V-4A third-place teams, the Metlakatla boys posted the only Class 3A victory on Saturday as the Chiefs edged Sitka 81-74. In the girls crossover game, Sitka beat Petersburg 41-39.
The Southeast championship basketball games are a no-win proposition for the Region V-4A champions. They're the bigger schools, so they're expected to win. But if they don't, it's a huge upset. All the Region V-4A teams can do is hope they win, and don't get anybody injured before the state tournament the next weekend.
"It's really tough," Juneau's Curtis Lane said after the boys Southeast championship game. "There are a lot of expectations, especially since we're the No. 1 team in the state. People expect us to win, but it's not that easy."
But upsets happen, rarely, and both Juneau teams remembered Mount Edgecumbe's upset over Ketchikan last year. It was only the second time a Class 3A team beat the Class 4A team since schools went to size classifications in 1984.
"He showed us how if we changed defenses we could change the momentum," Mount Edgecumbe's Prema Warren said of Johnson's videotape session. "It was inspirational, because we know we can beat any 4A team. This is good preparation for state, because there's no 3A team better than Juneau."
In the girls game, Mount Edgecumbe led 12-11 at the end of the first quarter. Juneau, which had a decided height advantage, led 17-14 midway through the second quarter, and to that point all of Juneau's points had been scored by three players shorter than 5-foot-4 -- Suzanne Parr, Kendri Cesar and Kari Parr. The next nine points Juneau scored were on 3-pointers by players taller than 5-10 -- Amy Neussl and Kacie Murphy. Those 3-pointers kicked off a 15-2 run and Juneau took a 32-16 lead into halftime.
"We needed to get the ball inside," Neussl said. "It was a good team effort. Everyone stepped up to play."
"We knew they'd be a good team," Cesar said. "They came out hard. The whole weekend was good preparation for state."
Cesar led Juneau with 10 points, while Murphy and Danielle Larson had eight points, Neussl and Suzanne Parr had seven and Hilary Rehfeld scored six. Warren led Mount Edgecumbe with 12 points, Ella Morris had 10 and Melanie Beans added nine.
In the boys game, Craig led 20-18 at the end of the fourth quarter but the Panthers lost high-scoring guard Raymond Douville to an ankle injury. Juneau opened the second quarter with a 22-4 run, and the Panthers never threatened again.
"Our defense started that one," Juneau's Byron Wild said. "We had a lot of offensive rebounds."
"We're one of the best conditioned teams in the state and we're a lot deeper than people think," Juneau's Bryan Hamey added. "We knew they were a good team and in the first quarter they had us back on our heels."
Lane led Juneau with 21 points, while Hamey added a career-high 19 points and Wild scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Junior Cumlat had 10 points for the Crimson Bears, while Joe Ayers, Ryan Monagle and Sterling Henderson each scored nine.
Fred Hamilton scored 19 points for Craig, while Ryan Savage added 13 points and Ryan Jones had eight.
"They've got a huge bench," Hamilton said of Juneau. "Raymond going down didn't help. But this helps us a lot as far as intensity. It's a big step up. It was a pretty huge weekend for us."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
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