There were no smiling faces immediately after Saturday's 44-40 defeat to Fullerton, Calif., High School from the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team.
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A sluggish first half and fourth-quarter comeback weren't enough for the Crimson Bears on Saturday. JDHS will look to turn it around at 8 p.m. tonight when it hosts Club Kilsyth from Kilsyth, Victoria, Australia in its opening game of the 17th annual Capital City Classic.
"Fullerton - we didn't come out to play," JDHS senior point guard Shawn Ibesate said. "I guess we got kind of intimidated because of the name 'California' on their chest. We want to come into this tournament confident and ready to play against any team."
The Crimson Bears (3-2) won 11 straight tournaments during one stretch, but they haven't captured the title since 2003.
JDHS will face a stacked field this year. In addition to the Cobras from Down Under, the Crimson Bears will take on Wasilla, the defending Class 4A state champions, and Tahoma High School from Washington.
Capital City Classic Schedule
Today's Games: Redmond, Wash., vs. Kodiak girls, 2 p.m.Tahoma, Wash., vs. Wasilla boys, 3:45 p.m.JDHS vs. Wrangell girls, 6:15 p.m.JDHS vs. Club Kilsyth, Aus., boys, 8 p.m.
Friday's games: Wrangell vs. Redmond, Wash., 2 p.m.Club Kilsyth, Aus., vs. Tahoma, Wash., 3:45 p.m.JDHS vs. Kodiak, 6:15 p.m.JDHS vs. Wasilla, 8 p.m.
Saturday's games: Kodiak vs. Wrangell, 2 p.m.Wasilla vs. Club Kilsyth, Aus., 3:45 p.m.JDHS vs. Redmond, Wash., 6:15 p.m.JDHS vs. Tahoma, Wash., 8 p.m.
The last three Capital City Classic tournaments have been won by Outside teams.
For the Bears to be successful, however, the team must start strong and not depend on a late surge which may not be enough.
"We just need to decide whether we want to be a competitive team or not," JDHS coach Steve Potter said.
If JDHS has any problems motivating itself to play, a packed gym, blaring band and strong opposition should provide plenty of incentive.
In addition to that, for many of the Crimson Bears, this year's version of the Capital City Classic will be the first time they'll probably see significant time in the holiday season's biggest local sporting event.
JDHS junior forward Geoff Craig said he played about "30 seconds" in games last year. This year, he's logging more minutes as a valuable reserve forward.
"It's going to be fun," Craig said. "It was fun playing in the last games. I didn't play much last year so it was hard. I would go in for 30 seconds and be all nervous. Now I'm more comfortable playing."
Juneau-Douglas started the season strong with wins over Kodiak and West Valley in the Joe Floyd Tournament in West Valley on Dec. 14-15. The Bears came from behind Friday to beat defending 3A state champions, Petersburg, 56-52 before Saturday's loss to Fullerton.
"It's all about attention to details for us, and getting yourself ready to play is an important detail," Potter said. "Apparently, I didn't do a very good job of getting ready (for Fullerton), so we talked about how I'm going to be more demanding and they decided they didn't like playing poorly like that. We'll see if that carries over. We'll see if they're paying lip-service to that or if they want to go win."