The Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team opened its season in a non-traditional manner this past week.
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The Crimson Bears opened the 2007-2008 season in Wake County, N.C., taking the time to play a couple games and check out a college contest as well.
"It was almost like a retreat," JDHS coach Lesslie Knight said from North Carolina on Saturday. "We lost four seniors and a returning senior (from last year's team) so we're trying to figure out the chemistry and personalities and leadership."
In search of a couple of games to fill out the schedule, Knight said she e-mailed schools in Oregon and Washington but couldn't find available spots. She said her players then brought up the idea of going to Duke to check out the Lady Blue Devils, one of the nation's top women's basketball teams.
For more pictures of the JDHS girls team in North Carolina, check out www.juneauempire.com/sports/.
For a preview story of JDHS in North Carolina from the Wake Weekly newspaper, check out http://www.wakeweekly.com/index.php?categoryid=14
Despite the distance, the price of going to North Carolina opposed to Fairbanks proved to be similar.
The Crimson Bears even got to check out Duke's 49-44 win over Rutgers on Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.
As for the Bears on the court, Juneau-Douglas fell to a pair of North Carolina's best.
The Crimson Bears opened their season Thursday with a 57-30 defeat to Wakefield High School. JDHS trailed 42-12 at the half.
"One of the things we talked about at halftime was starting the game over at 0-0 and see how this half goes," Knight said. "They played a much better second half. The amazing thing was Wakefield had several tall girls - one was 6-foot-5. We're very small and very young."
Kristen Dierick came off the bench to score a team-high nine points while senior Nicole Fenumiai had two 3-pointers.
"Everyone was incredibly hospitable," Knight said. "Southern hospitality at its best."
Due to a late scheduling conflict with wrestling at Wakefield, the game was move from its originally scheduled date of Friday to Thursday, one day before the official Alaska School Activities Association start of the season.
On Saturday, Juneau-Douglas traveled to one North Carolina's most famous basketball towns, Broughton, for a game against the Broughton High School Capitals. Legendary NBA Hall of Fame player "Pistol" Pete Maravich played his high school ball in Broughton. Former Duke standout and current member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Shavlik Randolph, also played in Broughton.
The Bears fell 53-47 after trailing 25-21 at the half.
"Our kids stayed in it and did a really nice job," Knight said.
Kayla Harrison led JDHS with 12 points, Brittany Fenumiai had 11 points and freshman Taylor Larson chipped in eight points in the loss.
The Crimson Bears will take two weeks off before hosting the Capital City Classic on Dec. 27-29.
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