Everything was set for the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team to end its three-year state tournament drought, but the Ketchikan Kings just wouldn't go away.
Ketchikan lost one of its top guards to an ankle injury four minutes into the game, and its center fouled out less than a minute into the second half. Even with those added advantages, the Crimson Bears only led by six points entering the fourth quarter and Ketchikan was still very much in Friday night's Region V-Class 4A championship game at the JDHS main gym.
After two scoreless minutes of play in the fourth quarter, Juneau coach Jim Hamey called a timeout to settle his team down. When play resumed, Kacie Murphy hit a 3-pointer from about 23 feet out. Hilary Rehfeld made two free throws, then Murphy hit another 3-pointer and the Crimson Bears were rolling.
Juneau rode that 14-point fourth-quarter run to claim a 47-28 victory over Ketchikan, earning the region's lone berth in next weekend's Class 4A state tournament at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena.
"This is awesome. This is great," Murphy said after her team celebrated its first region title in three years by cutting down the net. "We knew we wanted it more. I didn't really notice where I was, not really. I think we're ready for state. This is great."
Murphy, a senior forward, was the only Juneau player to finish in double-figure scoring, finishing with 12 points and three rebounds. Murphy missed most of the season because of ankle and knee injuries, and she plays with wraps on her left leg that run from her thigh to her foot. This was just Murphy's seventh game of the season, but she's finished in double-figure scoring in her last four.
"We got on a little run there," Hamey said of Murphy's 3-pointers. "She's an amazing story, to be able to play in the pain she's had. But when she's on the floor she's a definite offensive threat."
Senior guard Suzanne Parr added seven points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists for the Crimson Bears, while sophomore forward Danielle Larson had five points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot, and sophomore guard Kendri Cesar added five rebounds and two assists. Eleven of the 12 Crimson Bears on the roster scored points Friday night, including all six seniors.
"One of our goals this year was to get back to state," Cesar said. "This feels good."
"We knew it was going to take everything we had," Parr said. "I'm just so happy right now. Our team just wanted to beat them. Our rivalry with Ketchikan is so intense."
Juneau and Ketchikan have had their run-ins over the last few years, and in recent years things went in the Kings' favor. Ketchikan and Juneau reached the last two region championship games, with the Kings winning both times to keep Juneau from going to the state tournament even though it was considered one of the top teams in the state.
But this year things were starting to go in favor of the Crimson Bears, even though the two teams were tied for third in this week's state basketball poll. Juneau (17-5 overall, 17-6 if a non-counting Alaska School Activities Association endowment fund game is included) beat Ketchikan (17-5 overall) three of the four times they played during the regular season, and the Crimson Bears dominated the last two games.
"They're our biggest rivals," Cesar said.
In Friday's game, Ketchikan center Deanna Hallman, the Kings' main inside presence, picked up three fouls in the game's first 3 1/2 minutes and was called for her fourth midway through the second quarter. Ketchikan guard Anne Elliott, who has been one of the Kings' top scorers this season, went down with a sprained left ankle four minutes into the game and wouldn't play again.
Juneau made a small run in the second quarter, going from a 10-7 lead to 24-13 at halftime.
"As soon as her (Hallman) and Anne went out, we took advantage," Larson said.
"I've never sprained my ankle before," Elliott said. "This is perfect timing."
But that lead was shortlived. Ketchikan outscored Juneau 8-3 in the third quarter, closing the margin to 27-21 entering the fourth quarter. The Kings were still in it, until Murphy struck.
"We had some trouble scoring," Hamey said. "We took inopportune shots, and poor-percentage shots. We didn't work the ball, and Ketchikan played hard. Both teams were struggling with their offense."
"We came back in the third quarter, but Juneau played good at the end," Ketchikan coach Doug Nausid said.
Juneau had a 36-13 advantage in rebounding, and the Crimson Bears made 13 of 23 free throws while Ketchikan struggled with a 2-for-11 performance.
The Kings were led by Sarah Keene with eight points, while Jonnae Ostrom added seven points and six rebounds and Jodi Jakubek had seven points and Darcel Williams had four steals.
"I really like how these Juneau kids battled," Nausid said. "I wish them the best of luck at state. Hopefully, Juneau will do well at state. We'll be back next year. I feel like we've had a successful year."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 47, KINGS 28
Friday's Region V-4A girls championship game from JDHS
KETCHIKAN (28) -- Jonnae Ostrom 3 1-5 7, Deanna Hallman 0 0-0 0, Anne Elliott 0 0-0 0, Ashley Hayward 2 0-2 4, Darcel Williams 1 0-2 2, Whitney Hofstedt 0 0-0 0, Maria Swaim 0 0-0 0, Jodi Jakubek 3 1-1 7, Sarah Keene 4 0-1 8, Tory Edwardson 0 0-0 0, Terra Delong 0 0-0 0, Katie Geldaker 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 2-11 28.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (47) -- Kari Parr 2 0-0 4, Alida Bus 0 1-2 1, Suzanne Parr 2 3-5 7, Kendri Cesar 0 2-4 2, Anna Capacci 1 0-0 2, Heather Dillon 0 0-0 0, Amy Neussl 1 2-3 4, Kacie Murphy 5 0-0 12, Hilary Rehfeld 1 2-2 4, Danielle Larson 2 1-2 5, Letasha McKoy 1 0-3 2, Jessica Hahnlen 1 2-2 4. Totals: 16 13-23 47.
KETCHIKAN 7 6 8 7 -- 28
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 10 14 3 20 -- 47
3-point goals -- Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 2 (Murphy 2). Fouled out -- Ketchikan 1 (Hallman), Juneau-Douglas 0. Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- Ketchikan 23, Juneau-Douglas 12.