The Juneau girls basketball team talked about teamwork for an hour before Friday's Southeast-Class 4A girls championship game.
It took a half of play and a halftime refresher course, but the Crimson Bears finally got the message and pulled away from a resilient Ketchikan squad for a 63-50 win at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym.
With the win, the Juneau girls won their fourth straight Southeast-Class 4A title and claimed their fourth straight state tournament berth - but it didn't come easy, as Kayhi trailed by just a point at halftime.
"This is a pretty mellow group - it's always a challenge to fire them up," Juneau coach Lesslie Knight said. "When I talked to them at halftime I said 'Ketchikan obviously wants this pretty bad - do you? ... You need to get fired up.'"
The Crimson Bears did, and earned a trip to the state tournament from March 31-April 2 at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena.
Juneau (17-6 overall) jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first minute Friday as sophomore Talisa Rhea and then junior Lexi Garvey each stole the ball, ran two-thirds of the court, were fouled while making a layup and converted the three-point play.
Ketchikan (18-7 overall) scored the next six points to tie the game, and took an 8-7 lead on a basket by senior Tory Edwardson. Juneau went ahead 15-12 on a 3-pointer by senior Mary Rehfeld, and the Crimson Bears led 17-14 going into the second quarter.
Another Rehfeld 3 put Juneau ahead 22-14 with 6:15 left in the half, but the Kings battled back again. Kate Geldaker hit a jumper to tie the game at 22-all with 3:30 left in the period, and Juneau led by just a point - 27-26 - at halftime.
After Knight's halftime talk, Juneau came out strong and went on a 11-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Garvey - one of two in the quarter. Ketchikan cut Juneau's lead to seven points - 44-37 - with 1:39 left, but the Crimson Bears scored the last five points of the quarter to go up 49-37. Kayhi was unable to battle back in the fourth quarter.
"The first half was back-and-forth, back-and-forth," Rhea said. "The second half we started controlling and playing our game a little more."
Garvey scored 18 points, Rehfeld added 17 and Rhea scored 14 points, had six steals and seven assists to lead the Crimson Bears.
Garvey's effort was key to Juneau's victory.
"She plays great defense, and when she plays great defense her offense comes," Rhea said. "She hit some big shots, and that gives the team a boost."
Senior Ashley Larson - who was out for 10 days recently with an ankle injury - scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds for Juneau.
K.C. Greenup scored 16 points and Tory Edwardson added 11 for Ketchikan.
"They played really hard," Knight said of Ketchikan. "I give them a lot of credit. They improved a lot this season."
"Juneau came out really strong ... in the first quarter and again in the third quarter, and the third quarter is what ended up hurting us," Ketchikan coach Bob Hammer said.
Seven seniors played their final game for the Kings, among them guard Raquelle Pahang, who led the team on the floor.
"She ran our offense, she played tough defense (against) Rhea," Hammer said. "That girl's got nothing but heart."
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 63, KINGS 50
Friday's championship girls game from JDHS
KETCHIKAN (50) - Raquelle Pahang 1 6-6 8, Karin Voetberg 0 0-0 0, Larissa Otness 0 0-0 0, Lindy Henrick 0 0-0 0, Tory Edwardson 3 4-7 11, Laura West 2 1-2 5, Stacia Miller 0 2-2 2, K.C. Greenup 3 10-13 16, Jamie Edwardson 0 0-0 0, Crystal Reno 0 0-0 0, Kate Geldaker 4 0-2 8, Marta Geldaker 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 23-32 50.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (63) - Talisa Rhea 4 5-5 14, Lexi Garvey 4 8-13 18, Jordan Harvey 1 0-2 2, Kerstin Kimlinger 0 0-0 0, Sophia Smith 1 0-0 2, Mary Rehfeld 7 1-2 17, Kate Potter 0 1-2 1, Ashley Larson 4 1-2 9, Nicole Fenumiai 0 0-0 0, Andrea Doerflinger 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 16-26 63.
KETCHIKAN 14 12 11 13 - 50
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 17 10 22 14 - 63
3-point goals - Ketchikan 1 (T. Edwardson), Juneau-Douglas 5 (Garvey 2, Rehfeld 2, Rhea). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Ketchikan 18, Juneau-Douglas 23.