Juneau-Douglas High School second-year boys basketball coach Steve Potter doesn't expect too many opposing teams to play zone against his squad this year.
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If they do, the opposition may pay dearly.
With a bevy of long-distance shooters at all positions, the Crimson Bears are gearing up for another run at the state tournament. Juneau-Douglas' season starts at 1 p.m. today at the Joe Floyd Tournament in Kodiak against South Anchorage.
"Sean Bavard, Reese Saviers, Dominique Brinson, Shawn Ibesate and (Ryan) Bubba Larson are all good shooters," Potter said. "We saw a lot of zone last year. I don't imagine we'll see much zone at all this year."
Unlike the previous couple years, where height proved the Bears' primary strength, this year's team is reminiscent of Juneau's past where speed and shooting prevailed.
Leading the way for JDHS is an experienced backcourt with quickness and range.
JDHS boys basketball schedule:
Today vs. South Anchorage at Kodiak 1 p.m.
Dec. 14 vs. West Valley at Kodiak 2 p.m.
Dec. 15 vs. Kodiak at Kodiak 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 vs. Petersburg 8 p.m.
Dec. 22 vs. Fullerton, Calif. 8 p.m.
Dec. 27 vs. Club Kilsyth, Aus.* 8 p.m.
Dec. 28 vs. Wasilla* 8 p.m.
Dec. 29 vs. Tahoma, Wash.* 8 p.m.
Jan. 9 vs. Dimond at Dimond TBA
Jan. 10-12 at West Anchorage Tourney TBA
Jan. 25-26 vs. Colony 8 p.m.
Feb. 1-2 at Ketchikan TBA
Feb. 15-16 at Sitka TBA
Feb. 22-23 vs. Ketchikan 8 p.m.
Feb. 29-March 1 vs. Sitka 8 p.m.
March 6-8 . . Southeast Conference Tournament in Juneau
March 20-22 . . State Tournament in Anchorage
*Capital City Classic games
Meet the team
Dominique Brinson, sr.
Faifo Levale, sr.
Shawn Ibesate, sr.
Erick Waters, sr.
Brian Lauth, sr.
Justin Gundersen, sr.
Eric Gross, jr.
Sean Bavard, jr.
Corey Mahar, jr.
Geoff Craig, jr.
Jacob Hotch, jr.
Reese Saviers, so.
Cody Grussendorf, so.
Lawrence Fenumiai, so.
Colin Gozelski, fr.
Head coach: Steve Potter
Assistant coach/JV coach: Robert Casperson
Manager: Jorge Pacheco
Ibesate, a senior, steps into starting point guard role after coming off the bench last season. The stocky Ibesate is already a strong 3-point shooter, but will have the added responsibility of managing the Bears' high-octane attack this year.
"I think he's right up there with any point guard in the state," Brinson said. "He's looking forward to this year of getting the role of taking the ball down the court."
Brinson brings perhaps the most experience to this year's team.
Potter lauded the senior guard's offseason work. Brinson's long arms and athletic build makes him a difficult player to guard. He's got the ability to drive to the basket against slower competition, and step back for a jump shot if the opportunity arises.
The Bears appear deep in the guard position as sophomores Cody Grussendorf and Reese Saviers, along with junior Sean Bavard, are all accurate shooters.
But they don't boast significant varsity experience.
"I expect them all to play, they all will probably see some junior varsity action too but that's OK," Potter said. "We need to get them playing as much as possible. At the end of the year we won't have Dom or Ibesate so we won't have our starting backcourt. We need to build experience."
Juneau juniors Jacob Hotch and Corey Mahar can also stretch defenses with their shooting ability.
In the frontcourt, the Crimson Bears' versatility and diversity may create matchup problems for opposing teams. Forwards Larson, Faifo Levale and Eric Gross form an impressive triumvirate for JDHS.
Larson is one of the team's top 3-point shooters, but is also big enough to bang under the boards. Levale, best known for his bone-rattling screens in the open court, provides muscle on the post while Gross, a junior, can go inside or outside.
"Even through we're not as big, our post players can go into a triangle with me, Faifo and Gross," Larson said.
That triangle of Larson, Levale and Gross could emerge as a major weapon for JDHS. If Larson draws tight defense on the perimeter, the middle should open for Levale and Gross. Conversely, if opposing teams choose to shut down the lane, that may leave Larson open from long distance.
After playing sparingly his first two varsity seasons, Gross will be expected to be a main contributor on the team. The 6-foot-5 muscular redhead should be battle-tested after going up against graduated forwards Clae Baker (6-foot-6) and Will Egolf (6-foot-9) for two years.
"It'll be interesting," Gross said. "It's definitely a change over the last two years. I'm looking forward to it."
Junior forward Geoff Craig bolsters Juneau's depth at forward while two senior newcomers - Erick Waters and Justin Gundersen - provide defense and athleticism.
Sophomore Lawrence Fenumiai brings added muscle while senior Brian Lauth returns for his second varsity season.
After twice winning the Southeast Conference, Juneau-Douglas finds itself a bit under the radar as the season starts.
The Crimson Bears are currently ranked 13th in Class 4A according to Alaska high school Web site alaskapreps.rivals.com while Ketchikan sits in third position. The Kings are generating plenty of buzz this season due to senior 6-foot-9 center Damen Bell-Holter, a first-team all-state selection last year who's committed to NCAA Division I Missouri State, and a host of returning players.
Potter knows, however, that playing for Juneau means knowing that opposing teams will be extra-motivated to knock off Southeast Alaska's biggest school.
"The bull's eye is where it's always been," Potter said. "(Ketchikan's) got Bell-Holter and he's a heck of a player, they've got (Jase) Scudero and he's good. ... But we're still Juneau. They're going to be pumped to play us. Sitka will be pumped to play us. Petersburg will be pumped to play us.
"People come here looking for a big win, and we're hoping not to oblige them."
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or email@example.com.
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