Multifaceted Bears ready for tourney

Nine Juneau-Douglas players have scored in double figures this season

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2007

When you stand 6 feet, 9 inches tall, it's kind of hard not to be the center of attention.

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Add in an NCAA Division I men's basketball scholarship to Bradley University, the thunderous dunks and soft jumpers, and Juneau-Douglas High School senior Will Egolf can be the main focus of opposing teams.

Concentrating on just one man, however, leaves a bevy of capable Crimson Bears ready to strike.

"Yeah, sure," Egolf said about whether it's tough facing the extra defensive pressure. "But the teams that double, triple team us are the teams that lose by 30. They think I'm so much of the offense here they get the wrong impression. We always have four, five, six kids in double figures they don't think about."

Throughout the season, the second-ranked Crimson Bears (21-3) have proven they are more than just one player.

By regularly rotating their entire 12-player roster into each game, JDHS uses its depth and chemistry to defeat opponents.

The Crimson Bears will ride a 16-game winning streak to Anchorage on Thursday as they take on Colony in the state quarterfinals.

"Every person brings something to the table," junior forward Faifo Levale said. "That's what this team has. Some are lock-down defenders, some are shooters, people who can handle the rock, play 'D', set screens - every single person brings something to the table, and that's how this team has been."

Juneau-Douglas' depth paid great dividends throughout the season.

When Egolf becomes the focus of opposing team's defense, it has opened up space for forwards Clae Baker, Cameron Cook and Levale to have big games.

JDHS boys basketball

State quarterfinal game

Who: No. 2 JDHS (21-3) vs. Colony (13-11).

When: 11:20 a.m. Thursday.

Where: Service High School in Anchorage.

What's at stake: Thursday's winner will play either East Anchorage or Lathrop at 6:50 p.m. Friday at Sullivan Arena in the semifinal round.

Also, guard Nico Saldivar, Dominique Brinson, Shawn Ibesate and Bryan Combs all have the ability to score or set up others for points.

Robert Beierly, Ryan Larson and Sam Clark can score inside and outside on any given night.

Nine players scored in double-figures in games during the season.

Egolf may be the leading scorer and rebounder, but the Crimson Bears are a multifaceted team.

"Part of what we like to do is overload the bigs in there because we have so many," JDHS coach Steve Potter said. "We're similar at the guard. We've got Robert and Dom, and when we want to be bigger we have Bubba (Ryan Larson) at guard, and at point guard we play all three (Saldivar, Combs and Ibesate). They all bring different things to the table, but all are beholden to the team's success."

In addition to depth in multiple positions, one huge factor JDHS boasts when it flies north today is experience.

Last year, nearly the entire team was new to the state basketball tournament. As a result, JDHS came out flat against Chugiak. The Crimson Bears rallied in the fourth quarter, but couldn't climb out of the hole they dug for themselves.

This year, the vast majority of the team knows what it's like to play in the state's biggest tournament.

"This year, it's were going there for basketball and not just being at state," Egolf said.

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com.



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