ANCHORAGE - The Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team's hopes for a state title ended this morning, as the Crimson Bears fell to the Soldotna Stars 61-55 to open play in the Class 4A state high school basketball tournament at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena.
The Juneau boys were due to play East Anchorage at 1 p.m. today for their first tourney game.
In the girls game, Soldotna jumped out to a nine-point lead midway through the second quarter before Juneau rallied to take a one-point edge at the half, 22-21.
But the Crimson Bears could not sustain the comeback in the second half. Soldotna outscored Juneau 21-8 in the third quarter as the Stars' Rachel Besse chipped in 12 points during the period.
Juneau narrowed the gap to five points in the fourth, but free throws allowed Soldotna to maintain its edge and earn the win.
Soldotna moves on to face top-seeded Wasilla in the next round, while Juneau will play Dimond in the consolation bracket at 8 a.m. Friday.
Besse scored 19 points to lead the Stars, while Hillary Zobeck added 13.
Juneau was led by 17 points from Letasha McKoy, while Amy Neussl chipped in 14 points and Danielle Larson added 10.
Look for a full story on the game, along with coverage of the Juneau boys game and Class 3A games involving Southeast teams, in Friday's Empire sports section.
In Thursday's other early games, the Craig Panther boys beat Delta Junction, 54-47; the Valdez Buccaneer boys defeated Petersburg, 66-49; and the Wasilla Warrior girls beat Dimond, 65-52.