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Juneau boys pursue 10th straight Classic title as they open their season

Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2002

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team has been an inhospitable host when it comes to its signature Princess Cruises-Alaska Airlines Capital City Classic.

The Crimson Bears have won the last nine titles and failed to win the tournament just once in its 11 years.

When this year's tournament tips off on Friday, the Juneau boys will host one California team - the Alameda Hornets - and two from British Columbia - the L.V. Rogers Bombers of Nelson, B.C., and the Prince Rupert Rainmakers.

Juneau's boys will play their first game of the season during the tournament. A season preview for the Crimson Bears ran in Tuesday's sports section.

The boys tournament bracket wasn't filled until recently, when L.V. Rogers accepted an invitation.

"We got it filled, thanks to (assistant coach) Robert Casperson," Juneau boys coach George Houston said of the tournament's lingering empty spot, which had him worried a couple of months ago.

Even though they were the last team to join the party, the Bombers might be one of the more intriguing squads.

Princess Cruises-Alaska Airlines Capital City Classic Schedule

GIRLS

FRIDAY

1 p.m. Wasilla vs. Troy (Fullerton, Calif.)

6 p.m. Juneau-Douglas vs. Alameda (Calif.)

SATURDAY

1 p.m. Alameda (Calif.) vs. Troy (Fullerton, Calif.)

6 p.m. Juneau-Douglas vs. Wasilla.

MONDAY

1 p.m. Wasilla vs. Alameda (Calif.).

6 p.m. Juneau-Douglas vs. Troy (Fullerton, Calif.)

BOYS

FRIDAY

3 p.m. Alameda (Calif.) vs. L.V. Rogers (Nelson, British Columbia).

8 p.m. Juneau-Dougas vs. Prince Rupert (British Columbia)

SATURDAY

3 p.m. Prince Rupert (British Columbia) vs. L.V. Rogers (Nelson, British Columbia).

8 p.m. Juneau-Douglas vs. Alameda (Calif.)

MONDAY

3 p.m. Alameda (Calif.) vs. Prince Rupert (British Columbia)

8 p.m. Juneau-Douglas vs. L.V. Rogers (Nelson, British Columbia).

L.V. Rogers won last year's Kootenay League title and reached the British Columbia Class AAA (large schools) provincial tournament, but did not place after going 1-2. This year, the Bombers had a 7-0 record entering last weekend's tournament in Penticton, B.C. (results were not available), and they were ranked second in the Dec. 10 Class AAA rankings on the Basketball B.C. Web site.

The Bombers have been picked by Vancouver Sun sports writer Dan Stinson as the team most likely to win the British Columbia title and L.V. Rogers has one senior who's already signed a National Letter of Intent to play NCAA Division I college basketball next year. Sean Denison, a 6-10 senior center who plays on the Canadian Junior National Team, will play at Santa Clara next season.

"He brings size, shot blocking and plenty of scoring," said L.V. Rogers coach Dale Dergousoff, who played in the Juneau-Douglas High School gym when he was a college player at Simon Fraser going against University of Alaska Juneau (now UA Southeast). "He can go either way, left or right, and he's one of the best true big men to come out of the province."

Senior 6-2 guard Josh Sampson is the top outside threat, while perimeter players 5-9 senior guard Marty Fuhr, 6-1 senior forward Jeremy Phelan and 6-1 senior guard Mike Vance provide support and great defense, Dergousoff said.

"I feel it will be a great tourney and experience for our young men," Dergousoff said. "There is that mystique of traveling to Alaska - everybody would like to have an opportunity. It will give our team an opportunity to play in a first-class tourney where there is a lot of excitement and large crowds. I am hoping it will be similar to what we will experience when we go to our provincial championship."

While Prince Rupert hasn't played in Juneau for about 10 years, the Rainmakers are no strangers to Southeast Alaska basketball.

Last January, the Rainmakers took fourth place in the First City Prep Shootout in Ketchikan and they regularly play in Sitka and Ketchikan, coach Mel Bishop said.

Prince Rupert went 19-14 last season, won the Northwest B.C. Zone Championship for the seventh straight year and placed sixth in the British Columbia Class AA (mid-size schools) provincial tournament. The Rainmakers were 2-2 before playing in the Caledonia Invitational Tournament in Terrace, B.C., last week (results were not available) and they were 11th in the Basketball B.C. Web site's Class AA rankings on Dec. 18.

The Rainmakers are led by 6-6 senior center Ian (pronounced Yan) Urbanski, while senior Miguel Goncalves is the starting point guard. Coach Bishop said 6-3 junior Aaron Williams plays the four (power forward) position, while 6-1 junior Lindsay Smith and 6-0 senior Daryn Lawson both work hard defensively.

"We are looking forward to playing some very competitive teams, which will help the development of our team," Bishop said.

The Alameda boys opened their season with four straight victories, but since have lost four straight. The Hornets even had to withdraw after playing and losing one game at a tournament in Chico, Calif., because of a problem with player parent permission slips for overnight stays, according to the Chico Enterprise-Record. Alameda also lost all three of its games in the Holiday Prep Classic last weekend in Las Vegas.

Not much else is known about the Hornet boys, since Alameda coach Eddie Ruiz didn't respond to a questionnaire sent out to all of the Classic coaches, and the Hornet boys haven't posted as much information on the school's sports Web site as the girls team has.

Alameda's roster features six seniors - 5-7 guard Joseph Park, 5-8 guard Charles Brown, 5-9 guard Steven Lieu, 6-0 forward Mark Gillman, 6-2 forward Michael Murphy and 6-3 forward Alex Fleming. The tallest two players on the roster are just 6-3. Gillman was a first-team all-conference tight end for Alameda's football team.

Charles Bingham can be reached at cbingham@juneauempire.com.



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