Pack your bags and purchase your plane tickets because the Juneau-Douglas boys basketball team is heading to state after a 68-51 victory over the Ketchikan Kings in Friday's Region V-Class 4A title game.
Juneau returns to the Class 4A state tournament after being knocked out by Sitka in last year's region tournament in Sitka, snapping an eight-year reign by the Crimson Bears.
"When Sitka won last year, it was real emotional in the locker room after the game," Juneau senior Craig Kitka said. "I don't think anyone wanted to experience what we did last year."
The Crimson Bears, ranked No. 1 in both the Alaska State Sportswriters' Polls and the Winning Percentage Index, won their 20th game of the season with only two losses. They are assured of at least a second seed in the state tournament, which tips off on Thursday at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena.
Brackets and pairings for the state tournament will be released after all of the state's region tournaments are completed this weekend.
"It's a relief," Crimson Bears head coach George Houston said. "We didn't play perfect though. Ketchikan played hard and well."
It was Byron Wild's turn to have a big game for the Bears, who have had eight players score in double digits this season. Wild scored a career-high 18 points and dominated the glass, along with teammate Jake Miller.
"Jeeze, Byron Wild had a great game," Houston said. "He made some right moves he hasn't finished before."
"Byron played awesome," senior Ray Zimmer said. "He was ripping down boards and putting them back up. He's been playing great."
Wild's and Miller's defensive effort under the basket was the main reason Ketchikan's Jesse Richardson and Calin Bjur were held to nine and five points, respectively. On Thursday against Sitka, Bjur scored 23 and Richardson had 16 points in the Kings' 70-65 win.
"I don't know, it just happened," Wild said. "Some games you get the ball and some games you don't. We came out ready to play, but we didn't play as well as we could. Someone was open and it happened to be me. I'm just happy to play and get the win."
Ketchikan got on the scoreboard first and held a slight 9-8 lead midway through the first quarter. But the Crimson Bears went on a 14-0 run and held the Kings scoreless for almost eight minutes, capped off by a Bryan Hamey 3-pointer to give Juneau a 27-11 lead with 3:42 to go in the second quarter.
Juneau outscored Ketchikan 20-7 in the second quarter and went into the locker room at halftime with a commanding 37-18 lead. However, the Kings came out in the second half with fire and made a run at Juneau, closing the gap to 49-36 early in the fourth quarter.
Curtis Lane responded with one of his three 3-pointers to swing the momentum back into Juneau's favor and the Bears easily kept their distance the rest of the way.
After Wild's 18 points, Junior Cumlat led Juneau with 12 points, while Ryan Monagle scored 10 and Curtis Lane finished with nine. For Ketchikan, Russell Miller led the way with 15 points and Tyler Richardson added seven.
It was Juneau's fifth win over Ketchikan (15-9 overall) in as many games this season.
"We don't have the best talent in the world," Juneau assistant coach Steve Potter said. "But we have some talent."
"We can get five guys scoring 10 points in a game," Houston said. "That's been our strength -- our collectiveness as a team."
Jeff Kasper can be reached at email@example.com.
Crimson Bears 68, Kings 51
Friday's Region V-4A boys championship game at JDHS
KETCHIKAN (51) -- Russell Miller 5 4-4 15, Braden Sharp 1 2-2 4, Brian Updike1 0-0 2, Bob Boyd 0 0-0 0, Casey Bass 0 0-1 0, William Montgomery 2 1-2 5, Calin Bjur 1 3-4 5, John Steward 1 0-0 2, Jesse Richardson 2 5-6 9, Josh Robinson 0 0-0 0, Shaun Phillips 1 0-1 2, Tyler Richardson 3 1-3 7. Totals: 15 16-23 51.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (68) -- Junior Cumlat 5 2-5 12, Joe Ayers 1 2-3 4, Ryan Monagle 4 2-2 10, Sterling Henderson 0 0-0 0, Alex Heumann 0 0-0 0, Nik Hura 1 0-0 3, Bryan Hamey 3 0-0 7, Craig Kitka 1 1-2 3, Curtis Lane 3 0-0 9, Byron Wild 9 0-0 18, Jake Miller 1 0-0 2, Ray Zimmer 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28 7-12 68.
KETCHIKAN 11 7 16 17 -- 51
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 17 20 12 19 -- 68
3-point goals -- Ketchikan 1 (Miller), Juneau-Douglas 5 (Lane 3, Hura 1, Hamey 1). Fouled out -- Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 1 (Wild). Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- Ketchikan 18, Juneau-Douglas 20.