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Soccer quartet goes from floor to field

Four girls basketball players cover the soccer field for Juneau

Posted: Friday, May 16, 2003

Letasha McKoy clears away an opponent's shot, and passes the ball up to Kendri Cesar. Cesar takes the ball and looks for options to pass - maybe up to Alida Bus on the right side, or up the middle to Nicole Lupro.

Basketball or soccer? Soccer or basketball? With these four Juneau-Douglas High School juniors, it could be either.

McKoy, Cesar, Bus and Lupro are two-sport athletes who will be taking to the soccer field this weekend for the Crimson Bears' final regular-season games. Juneau (10-0-1) hosts Ketchikan (1-10-1) for a pair of games - at 8 p.m. on Friday and 6:15 p.m. on Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.

Juneau beat Kayhi twice in Ketchikan last month, giving the Crimson Bears a commanding lead in the four-game season series that decides which Southeast team gets a berth in the state tourney on May 22-24 in Wasilla.

There is an immediate transition from the state basketball tournament to early-season soccer workouts in late March. Girls soccer co-coach Sandi Wagner said the players - and the soccer program - benefit from the skills and a higher fitness level acquired in other sports.

"I've always been a proponent of having kids involved in multiple activities," Wagner said. "It makes them a better athlete - more well-rounded - and it gives them different perspectives."

The four hoops players are far from the only multi-sport athletes on the girls team. Senior Callan Janowiec was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year for volleyball after leading the Crimson Bears to a state title last November. Other players run track and cross-country.

But only the basketball players have the seamless transition from one season into another. While the hoops season requires more sprinting, and the soccer season more distance and endurance running, there is no doubt the four juniors come into the spring at a good fitness level.

"From the beginning of soccer season, we're in shape," McKoy said.

And the players' roles on each team have many similarities. Cesar directed the basketball team's offense from her point guard position, and she does the same as a center midfielder on the soccer team.

"Point guard runs the floor, and while center midfield has other midfielders (to share duties), it's still the same position, distributing the ball around," she said.

In both sports, McKoy excels in defending the goal. And Bus and Lupro run out front, passing the ball in to teammates or, sometimes, moving into the center spot and receiving a pass to score.

In soccer "I'm always on the wing, getting the ball to the inside," Lupro said. "And on the basketball court, that's what I do."

The benefits of playing two sports are not a one-way street from winter to spring; Bus said her field awareness from soccer carries over to the smaller basketball court.

"You're able to see the field better, to see the open man," she said.

Ketchikan is coming off an 0-3-1 road trip in Southcentral Alaska, and the Kings feature several of their own hoops-to-soccer players, including senior Anne Elliott.

Juneau was quite dominant against Ketchikan in their first two games of the season, and the Crimson Bears don't want any letdown in their last home games of the season - and last home games ever for nine seniors.

"We need to keep possession of the ball and play like we know we can play," Lupro said. "We need to ... play to our full potential."

• Andrew Krueger can be reached at akrueger@juneauempire.com.



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