The offense wasn't clicking for the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team early in Thursday night's Princess-Capital City Classic opener against the Mills Vikings.
So the Crimson Bears turned up the pressure on defense en route to a 46-32 victory over the visitors from Millbrae, Calif. In Thursday's other girls first-round game, the Wasilla Warriors claimed a 68-37 victory over the North Kitsap Vikings of Poulsbo, Wash.
Juneau's guard trio of Kendri Cesar, Suzanne Parr and Kari Parr combined for 13 steals to offset a struggling inside game. The Crimson Bears tried to force the ball into the low post, but it wasn't until the guards started forcing turnovers in transition that Juneau began to get something going on offense.
Juneau (4-0 overall) held Mills (7-7) to just four points in each of the second and third quarters, enabling the Crimson Bears to rally from an early deficit.
Princess Capital City Classic
Thursday's girls scores
Wasilla 68, North Kitsap 37
Juneau-Douglas 46, Mills 32
Today's girls games
Wasilla vs. Mills, 1 p.m.
Juneau-Douglas vs. North Kitsap, 6 p.m.
Saturday's girls games
Mills vs. North Kitsap, noon
Juneau-Douglas vs. Wasilla, 6 p.m.
"It was horrible. It was first-tournament-game and hometown-opener jitters, I guess," Suzanne Parr said of the way Juneau struggled early in the game. "We started focusing more on defense than offense. Our plan was to try and come out and get the ball inside, but that wasn't working and we started relying on our outside game. It's good somebody stepped it up. We're always strong defensively."
Trailing 9-8 at the end of the first quarter, and 11-10 early in the second, Juneau forward Amy Neussl finally gave the Crimson Bears an offensive spark. Neussl scored 10 of her game-high 17 points in the second quarter, including a stretch of eight straight that gave Juneau a 19-13 lead at halftime. Neussl, who also grabbed eight rebounds and got most of her points off long jumpers from the wing.
"It was just the beginning of the game. We need to start earlier," Neussl said. "We made some mental mistakes, but we picked up our defensive intensity and we've got to go to the boards harder. We've got good people to work with, but we've got to get better."
In the third quarter, it was Cesar's turn to step things on offense. Cesar, who was scoreless in the first half, scored eight of her 10 points in the third quarter as the Crimson Bears lengthened their lead to 30-17.
"We were kind of nervous and we had to work things out," said Cesar, who had five steals. "We had troouble executing off the dribble and getting the ball inside, and we weren't blocking out. We always have to remember to move our feet on defense."
Juneau's largest lead was 36-18 early in the fourth quarter, and the Crimson Bears had to hold off a small seven-point run by the Vikings before closing out the victory. Juneau center Hilary Rehfeld added eight points for the Crimson Bears, but five of those didn't come until the fourth quarter. The Parr twins finished with four assists and four steals apiece.
Mills guard Katie Burroughs scored 14 points to lead the Vikings, while point guard Lavina Fanaika added 12 points and seven rebounds. Mills dominated the boards at times, with Teresa Rangel grabbing nine rebounds and Jullian Scialanga six.
But both Burroughs and Mills coach Kelly Shea Gallo said Juneau's senior-laden roster had an edge over the younger Vikings, even though this is her team's third tournament of the season.
"We came out strong, but then the wheels fell off," Gallo said. "Our strongest quarters have been the first and the fourth, and we need to figure out how to get over that hump (the second and third quarters)."
"We slacked off on our defense, and No. 23 (Neussl) got hot," Burroughs said. "In the second and third quarters we didn't make a lot of shots, and we had a lot of turnovers. We were in it in the first quarter, but we kind of gave up in the second quarter."
Even with the victory, many of the Crimson Bears weren't happy with their performance. Juneau coach Jim Hamey said he was especially disappointed by his team's poor shot selection.
"I thought we played pretty poorly," Hamey said. "I was disappointed in our toughness inside. We didn't get much at all offensively. We must have had a dozen shots where we were just inside the (3-point) line, and if you're going to take shots from there you might as well take a step back and make it a 3-pointer. I think we're a better team than we showed. According to the stat chart I saw at halftime, we both had six field goals. But they were 6-for-14, and we were like 6-for-28."
Warriors 68, Vikings 37
Sophomore guard Chandice Cronk, a transfer to Class 4A power Wasilla from Class 2A Northway, scored 24 points to lead the Wasilla Warriors over North Kitsap in Thursday's early girls game of the Princess-Capital City Classic. Cronk scored most of her points off the transition game, which led the Warriors when Wasilla struggled getting points inside despite having a significant height advantage over North Kitsap.
"We weren't working the ball in to Brittney (Kroon, Wasilla's 6-foot-4 center), and we weren't looking for our shots," Cronk said. "It's been a big transition. It's a lot more physical game."
Kroon added 12 points for Wasilla (3-0 overall), which also picked up 11 points from Christy Hayes and 10 from Tonya James.
"It took us the whole first half to get going," Hayes said. "We weren't moving our feet on defense, and some of our passes just were not there."
Even though she only scored two points in the first half, Kroon was an intimidating presence for the Vikings, whose tallest player was 5-10 forward Sheena Brundage. Brundage led North Kitsap (0-8 overall) with nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, while Jennifer Harris had seven points and seven rebounds.
"It's a huge difference when their biggest gal is 6-4 and ours is 5-10, it's kind of hard," North Kitsap coach Dan Weedin said. "I thought we did excellent to only be down 11 points (30-19) in the first half. I'm really proud of our effort. We've got a young team and we were not intimidated."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 46, VIKINGS 32
Thursday's game at Juneau-Douglas High School
MILLS (32) -- Nikkie Andreatta 0 0-0 0, Brittany Arita 0 0-0 0, Katie Burroughs 5 4-4 14, Tara Nordland 1 0-0 2, Jessica Hanacek 0 0-0 0, Lavina Fanaika 4 3-6 12, Marissa Gutierrez 1 0-0 2, Jillian Scialanga 0 0-0 0, Teresa Rangel 1 0-0 2, Laura Don 0 0-0 0, Jennifer Gerhardt 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 7-10 32.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (46) -- Kari Parr 0 0-1 0, Suzanne Parr 2 0-0 4, Kendri Cesar 4 2-2 10, Nicole Lupro 0 0-0 0, Anna Capacci 1 0-0 2, Mary Rehfeld 0 0-0 0, Heather Dillon 0 0-0 0, Amy Neussl 8 1-4 17, Hilary Rehfeld 2 4-10 8, Danielle Larson 1 1-4 3, Letasha McKoy 0 0-0 0, Jessica Hahnlen 0 2-2 2, Alida Bus 0 0-0 0, Ashley Larson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 10-23 46.
MILLS 9 4 4 15 -- 32
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 8 11 11 16 -- 46
3-point goals -- Mills 1 (Fanaika 1), Juneau-Douglas 0. Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- Mills 16, Juneau-Douglas 11.
WARRIORS 68, VIKINGS 37
Thursday's game at Juneau-Douglas High School
NORTH KITSAP (37) -- Sierra Urie 0 0-0 0, Sarah Bergman 2 1-2 5, Hailey Koivu 1 1-2 3, Brita Nelson 1 0-0 2, Jessica Bento 0 3-5 3, Jean Ottele 3 0-0 6, Lisa Roberts 0 0-0 0, Stacey Knight 0 0-0 0, Ashley Davis 1 0-0 2, Sheena Brundage 2 5-6 9, Jennifer Harris 2 3-6 7, Kristina Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 13-21 37.
WASILLA (68) -- Tonya James 5 0-0 10, Kelly Tompkins 2 0-0 4, Marsha Schirack 1 3-4 5, Chandice Cronk 10 2-3 24, Erika Lund 1 0-0 2, Christie Hayes 4 2-2 11, Malorie Egger 0 0-1 0, Brittney Kroon 5 2-3 12, Mellisa Mayse 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28 9-13 68.
NORTH KITSAP 6 13 6 12 -- 37
WASILLA 11 19 18 20 -- 68
3-point goals -- North Kitsap 0, Wasilla 3 (Cronk 2, Hayes 1). Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- North Kitsap 14, Wasilla 19.