One of the more intriguing games of the young basketball season will take place Friday at Juneau-Douglas High School.
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Defending Class 3A champions Petersburg (2-0) will take the ferry to Juneau for an 8 p.m. Friday game against the Crimson Bears (2-1). JDHS will then host the Fullerton, Calif., High School Indians (6-4) at 8 p.m. Saturday.
"We're very excited," said Vikings coach Rick Brock, now in his 18th year. "We're looking at it like a very serious test to see where we are at this point of the year. Not only going on the road to play a 4A team, but one of the best programs in the state. That's what makes you better, to play excellent teams."
JDHS boys basketball
What: JDHS (2-1) vs. Petersburg (2-0). Also, JDHS vs. Fullerton, Calif. (6-4).
When: 8 p.m. Friday vs. Petersburg, 8 p.m. Saturday vs. Fullerton, Calif..
Where: JDHS gym.
About the opponents: The Vikings are the defending Class 3A state champs. The Fullerton Indians play in the Orange County Conference in California.
Class 3A is for schools with between 101-400 students, while Class 4A schools, like Juneau-Douglas, have 401 students or more.
Brock believes this is the first time Petersburg has taken on Juneau-Douglas in the regular season since the mid-1980s.
The Vikings and Crimson Bears are not strangers, however. Both teams are two-time defending conference champs and have met in the 3A/4A crossover championship game the last two seasons. Juneau-Douglas defeated Petersburg 68-50 in 2006 and 56-47 last March in the crossover game.
The Vikings, however, went on to capture the Class 3A state title in Anchorage last season and finished 25-3 overall.
It was Petersburg's first state championship since 1927.
The year's Petersburg squad opened the season with two wins over Class 3A Southeast rival Metlakatla.
"It's such a different team this year," said Petersburg senior Cameron Severson, the defending Class 3A state player of the year. "We're kind of trying not to think about that we won last year so it'll just come this year. We have to go through the steps and see if we can do it."
Brock said the team returns three core players from last year's state title squad - the starting backcourt of John Mazzella and Cody Smith along with Severson.
Severson, a senior forward, is one of Alaska's top basketball players regardless of school size. The 6-foot-5 forward was named to the 2007 all-state tournament team along with earning player of the year honors.
Brock said Severson's been contacted by about a half-dozen universities concerning playing college basketball.
"He makes everyone around him better and you don't see that an awful lot in high school," Brock said. "He does everything well, but his game sense and court smarts are what separates him from other kids. He's really got a good head on his shoulders about the game and understands how to play."
Petersburg will be facing one of the state's most electric atmospheres in Juneau-Douglas.
In addition to the always energized crowd, coach Steve Potter's Crimson Bears are coming off two impressive victories in Kodiak.
Senior guard Dominique Brinson leads JDHS in scoring at 17 points per game while forward Ryan "Bubba" Larson is averaging 16.7 points per outing. Junior forward Eric Gross helps balance Juneau-Douglas's attack with 15.3 points per game.
While this game doesn't count toward any standings, Petersburg is excited to test themselves against JDHS.
"We're excited," Severson said. "We love playing 4A schools. It's just a bigger challenge and we're testing ourselves."
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or email@example.com.
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