ANCHORAGE - The Wasilla Warriors rallied from a 12-point third-quarter
deficit to defeat the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears boys basketball squad,
45-43, in the state tournament semifinals Friday night.
The loss ends Juneau's hopes to make it to its second consecutive state
championship game. The Crimson Bears lost to Bartlett in the state final
Juneau built an early lead and held a 10-point advantage going into the
halftime break, 28-18.
The Crimson Bears extended that lead to 12 points, 32-20, with 5:44 left in
the third before Wasilla's 7-foot center, Ray Schafer, came alive
offensively and keyed a 8-0 run.
Juneau still led by six, 38-32, going into the fourth quarter, but the
Crimson Bears only managed five points in the final period while Schafer and
Buddy Bailey combined for eight by themselves to lead Wasilla to victory.
Juneau had several unsuccessful attempts to tie or win the game in the
closing seconds, culminating in Joe Ayers running three-point attempt at the
Wasilla coach Jason Marvel said he challenged his players at halftime to
make a run.
"We were all hanging our heads, with long faces, and I told them...
adversity is a good thing. It (gives the chance) to show tremendous
character, and that's what we did."
Juneau senior Byron Wild was injured with 3:52 left in the third quarter
after hitting the floor hard while trying to grab a rebound. He appeared to
suffer a cut on the back of his head and was taken to a hospital for
treatment, but no further details were available Friday night.
Last year, it was Juneau that rallied for a 59-56 overtime win over Wasilla
in the state tourney semifinals. That history left the Crimson Bears
anticipating another down-to-the-wire game.
"The past three, four years we've had some really close battles," Juneau
senior Bryan Hamey said after the game. "We were expecting a good game, and
they got the better of us tonight."
Juneau will advance to play the winner of Friday night's late game between
Bartlett and Colony at 11:20 a.m. Saturday.
Wasilla will face the winner of that late game for the state title Saturday
Look in Sunday's Juneau Empire for more details on Friday night's game, as
well as complete coverage of Saturday's Juneau boys game and highlights of
Class 3A games featuring the Craig boys, Petersburg boys, Petersburg girls
and Mount Edgecumbe girls.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.