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Juneau Imperial flexed its might Monday afternoon, beating Sitka BDK 79-43 in the opening round of the 59th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament's Women's Bracket.
Juneau jumped out to an early lead at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym, beginning the game with a 7-0 run and limiting Sitka to just four points in the first 10 minutes of play. Led by the quick hands and agile feet of Kacy Lockhart and Kara Lindley, Juneau's aggressive defense and sharp teamwork dominated both sides of the courts throughout the game.
"It went really well," Juneau coach Jer Hamey said. "I think our press worked, especially at the beginning of the game. It got them off balance and we were able to get a lot of easy shots and take advantage of our speed. We have really good team speed."
In Monday's other Women's Bracket game, Juneau Jeffus & Williams defeated Kake 56-47. The victorious Juneau teams advance to winners' bracket competition today, with Jeffus & Williams facing longtime powerhouse Prince of Wales at 1 p.m. and Imperial taking on Sitka/The Cellar at 2:30 p.m. Sitka BDK and Kake will play in losers' bracket games on Wednesday.
On Monday, Sitka BDK had a slight height advantage, which aided in rebounding pursuits, but Juneau's offensive and defensive quickness provided many open shots and led to numerous Sitka turnovers.
"We don't have a lot of size so we want to score a lot of lay-ups and play tough defense and score off the turnovers," said Lucy Potter, who scored 18 points for Juneau. "Pressing, running, we really like to push the ball. It's important. It's a big strategy for us, and working really hard on defense."
Trailing 24-6 with just under 10 minutes left in the half, Sitka took a time-out to regroup. After the short break Sitka's shooting began to improve, and Kendri Cesar and Rhonda Hickock began to play more aggressive offense. But Sitka could do little to fend off Juneau's offensive intensity and went into halftime trailing 43-19.
"It was kind of a slow start ... but I think we did OK," said Cesar, a 2004 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate who scored 11 points for Sitka. "Juneau's a tough team. They've got really good ballhandlers."
Sitka came out more aggressive in the second half, tearing away rebounds and finding holes in Juneau's defense, which in turn caused more fouls.
"It went pretty well for our first game. It was rather physical, but we need that," Lockhart said. "They played hard. They played intense and physical and they gave us a good challenge."
"Girls basketball is a physical game, and as you build a lead a lot of time frustrations get in there and there's a lot of hard fouls and things like that," Hamey said. "It's tough for an official because it's not a close game and they don't want to call every ticky-tack (foul) but at the same time you got to make sure that the integrity of the game stays intact. They did a good job. We just don't want anyone to get hurt."
Juneau kept up the pressure and relied on its team speed to keep a comfortable lead throughout the second half. Deb Barry, Karn Hickok, Potter and Lockhart kept the offensive machine rolling, steadily increasing Juneau's lead while enduring some hard fouls along the way.
"It's always physical during Gold Medal," said Potter.
Juneau was able to capitalize on Sitka's aggressive defense, going from the free-throw line, including Lockhart's 7 of 8.
Juneau ended the game similar to how it began, going on a 9-0 run to finish.
Hamey said there are a few things his team needs to focus on before today's game, but said they plan on using the same strategy for the remainder of the tournament.
"I think we'll find some other teams that are able to handle the ball well. We definitely need to do a better job at blocking out because we're definitely not as big as some of the teams that are here," he said. "Hopefully we'll be able to take advantage of our speed and quickness."
Lindley scored 18 points for Juneau, Lockhart had 15 points, Barry scored 12 points, and Karn Hickok added 10 points.
Rhonda Hickock scored 14 points for Sitka, Breanne Erickson had 6 points, and Miranda Whitson and Karie Sheggeby each added 4 points.
Jeffus-Williams 56, Kake 47
Jennifer Mannix scored 26 points to lead Juneau's Jeffus-Williams over Kake in the opening round of Women's Bracket play Monday.
Rebecca Duncan added 13 points for Jeffus-Williams.
Robin Knudsen led Kake with 20 points and Violet Anderson added 11.
JUNEAU JEFFUS-WILLIAMS 56, KAKE 47
Monday's first-round game from JDHS
JUNEAU JEFFUS-WILLIAMS (56) - Jennifer Kemp 2 1-2 5, Angela Kemp 0 0-0 0, Amy McLeod 1 0-0 2, Jennifer Mannix 12 2-4 26, Maridon Boario 2 0-0 4, Lexie Larson 1 0-0 2, Christal Tompkins 0 0-0 0, Becky White 1 0-0 2, Alison Cooney 1 0-0 2, Rebecca Duncan 5 3-6 13, Donna Hahnlen 0 0-0 0, Amelia Rivera 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 6-11 56.
KAKE (47) - Robin Knudsen 8 0-4 20, Marla Dixson 2 3-4 7, Karlee Smith 1 0-0 3, Violet Anderson 3 4-6 11, Sara James 0 0-0 0, Evelyn (no last name listed) 0 0-0 0, Amber Beardslee 0 0-0 0, Michelle Friday 0 0-0 0, Lavonne Alsup 0 0-0 0, Sandy Jackson 0 0-0 0, Danielle Knudsen 3 0-0 6, Shawna Ashenfelter 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 7-14 47.
JEFFUS-WILLIAMS 24 32 - 56
KAKE 23 24 - 47
3-point goals - Jeffus-Williams 0, Kake 6 (R. Knudsen 4, Smith 1, Anderson 1). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Jeffus-Williams 13, Kake 9.
JUNEAU IMPERIALS 79, SITKA BDK 43
Monday's first-round game from JDHS
JUNEAU IMPERIALS (79) - Karn Hickok 5 0-0 10, Lucy Potter 8 2-3 18, Shelly Hurt 1 0-0 2, Kara Lindley 7 3-4 18, Kacy Lockhart 4 7-8 15, Josie Ramirez 1 0-0 2, Brook Gunstrom 0 0-0 0, Stacey Skan-George1 0-0 2, Deb Barry 4 4-6 12. Totals: 31 16-21 79.
SITKA BDK (43) - Denise Berkly-Salter 0 2-2 2, Kelsey Erickson 1 0-0 2, Breanne Erickson 3 0-2 6, Alberta Jones 0 0-0 0, Rhonda Hickock 7 0-0 14, Korie Sheggely 2 0-0 4, Kerin Wilson 0 0-0 0, Miranda Whitson 2 0-0 4, Jill Beardslee 0 0-0 0, Kendri Cesar 5 0-0 11. Totals: 20 2-4 43.
JUNEAU IMPERIALS 43 36 - 79
SITKA 19 24 - 43
3-point goals - Juneau Imperials 1 (Lindley 1), Sitka 1 (Cesar 1). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Juneau Imperials 9, Sitka 15.