It was a ragged start for the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team, so they turned to the defense for answers.
By tightening up their defense, the Crimson Bears were able to work their way through their opening-game jitters and find their offensive rhythm to claim a 61-39 victory over the Service Cougars in Monday's first round of the Princess Cruises Capital City Classic at the JDHS main gym.
"We had some ragged moments, but our defense was pretty good, pretty intense," Juneau coach George Houston said. "I always tell them to bust their butts on defense, because that will translate into our offense."
"Couldn't you tell I was nervous?" junior captain Luke Miller said. "Our defense was there the whole night. You can have an off-night shooting, as long as you play good defense."
With the victory, the Crimson Bears kept alive their chances of winning a 12th straight title and 13th in 14 years. Juneau plays Dimond at 8 p.m. tonight, while Service takes on North Kitsap of Poulsbo, Wash., at 3 p.m. In Monday's other first-round game, North Kitsap beat Dimond 75-64.
The Crimson Bears looked like a team playing its first game of the season, especially in the first quarter when Juneau could only score nine points. But, because of a defense that held Service to just two points, the Crimson Bears were leading by seven at the end of the quarter.
Service, which was playing its fourth game of the season, scored the first basket of the game. But then the Cougars (1-3 overall, 0-1 in the tournament) went 10 minutes, 51 seconds before they scored their next points. Juneau was struggling on its own offensive end, but the Crimson Bears still led 14-2 when Service finally scored midway through the second quarter.
"I think we worked really hard on defense," Juneau senior captain and point guard Larry Cooper said. "If we play good defense, it can lead to good things on offense."
"When I looked up and saw it was 14-2, I didn't realize we'd held them to two points," Juneau senior swingman and captain Tom Derbesy said. "We can have an off-night shooting, but if we keep our effort up on defense we can stay in the game."
Juneau almost got through the first half with Service in single-digit scoring, and only a bucket with 2.6 seconds left moved the Cougars into double figures as the Crimson Bears took a 26-10 halftime lead. In the second half, Service never got closer than 15 points.
Juneau also started to find its offense in the second half, as the Crimson Bears began to pick apart Service's 1-3-1 zone. Juneau committed several turnovers in the first half, but in the second half the passing was much crisper with nice assists from Miller, junior Ryan Fagerstrom and senior Mychal Hutcherson, who made a nice no-look, behind-the-back pass to Fagerstrom for a bucket in the fourth quarter.
"We do shooting and passing drills in practice and me and Will (Egolf, a sophomore) have been working on a no-look pass," Hutcherson said. "I saw Ryan out of the corner of my eye, and got it to him."
"It was our first game and we came out hard on defense," Fagerstrom said. "There were actually people taking charges, and that didn't happen last year. Our motto this year is the fist, five individuals coming together as one."
The Crimson Bears were led by senior Kyle Huntsman, who scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. Derbesy scored 10 points, while senior Norman Zura and Egolf scored nine points each for Juneau.
Markese Bookhard scored 15 points to lead Service, while Marcus Lowe added 11 points and Mike Redlinger grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Cougars are a young team, with no returners from last year's varsity squad. To compound matters, Service left senior Bronson Aspen home with an ankle injury and junior Sam Timmons (the team's leading scorer in its only win) home for disciplinary reasons.
"I felt we played a good first quarter and even a good first half," said Service coach Phil Jordan, who coached Bartlett to the 1992 Capital City Classic boys title, the only one not won by Juneau. "We played good defense, but our problem is we don't have anybody who can put the ball in the hole. Then, we're falling behind and that forces us to do some things we don't want to try and catch up. Plus, there was the crowd, where no one's really for you, and the tradition they have here, and my kids have never been through that. It's good for them to experience that."
Vikings 75, Lynx 64
Jordan Henry hit three straight 3-pointers to open the second half, keying North Kitsap to a victory over Dimond in the first boys game of the Capital City Classic.
The Vikings, of Poulsbo, Wash., forced Dimond into several turnovers in the first quarter, turning that into a 21-10 lead at the end of the period. But the Lynx, of Anchorage, turned the tables in the second quarter, forcing North Kitsap to foul or turn the ball over as Dimond rallied to take a 32-30 halftime lead.
But in the second half Henry, who had been scoreless in the first half, found his range and his 3-pointers put North Kitsap up 39-32 and the Vikings never looked back.
"It was huge," North Kitsap coach Aaron Nations said of Henry's shooting. "We talked at halftime about taking it one possession at a time, and 3-pointers really help. When Jordan hit those three 3s, we went from down two to up seven. And on defense, we forced them to make bad passes or take bad shots."
"They got hot. They came out and hit some huge shots to stop our momentum," Dimond coach Rob Galosich said. "We haven't played for four days and it's like we're still on Christmas break. We need to wake up and realize it's time to play ball."
Ryan Young scored 22 points to lead North Kitsap (3-2 overall, 1-0 in the tournament), while Jacob Gonzales added 21 points, Henry scored 12 and Jared Prince chipped in 10 for the Vikings.
Warren Lewis led all scorers in the game with 29 points for Dimond (1-1 overall, 0-1 tournament), and Conor Scott added 16 points and Andy Busch scored seven.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
Capital City Classic
Today's matchups at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym:
1 p.m.: North Kitsap girls vs. Chugiak
3 p.m.: Service boys vs. North Kitsap
6 p.m.: Juneau girls vs. Nathan Hale
8 p.m.: Juneau boys vs. Dimond
CRIMSON BEARS 61, COUGARS 39
Monday's boys game from JDHS
SERVICE (39) - Sean Whitener 0 0-0 0, Spencer Cotten 0 0-0 0, Alfredo Herrera 2 3-3 7, Mike Redlinger 2 0-0 4, Markese Bookhard 6 1-2 15, Nash Cotten 0 2-2 2, Evan Wasserman 0 0-0 0, Marcus Lowe 3 4-4 11, Dumondd Odom 0 0-3 0, Brandon Britt 0 0-0 0, Cameron Allen 0 0-0 0. 13 10-14 39.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (61) - Larry Cooper 2 0-0 5, Norman Zura 3 2-2 9, Nico Saldivar 0 0-0 0, Tom Derbesy 4 1-2 10, Tres Saldivar 0 0-0 0, Luke Miller 0 0-0 0, Ryan Fagerstrom 2 0-2 4, Robert Beierly 0 0-0 0, Scott Lesh 1 0-0 2, Mychal Hutcherson 2 0-0 4, Kyle Huntsman 4 4-6 12, Clae Baker 2 0-0 4, Bryan Ryder 1 0-0 2, Will Egolf 4 1-2 9, Daryl Lew 0 0-0 0, Cameron Cook 0 0-0 0.
SERVICE 2 8 15 14 - 39
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 9 17 16 19 - 61
3-point goals - Service 3 (Bookhard 2, Lowe 1), Juneau-Douglas 3 (Cooper 1, Zura 1, Derbesy 1). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Service 15, Juneau-Douglas 17.
VIKINGS 75, LYNX 64
Monday's boys game from JDHS
DIMOND (64) - Kyle Rochon 0 0-0 0, Warren Lewis 10 5-6 29, Prasad Dobbins 2 0-0 4, Andy Busch 3 0-0 7, Joe Moran 0 0-0 0, Janus Abello 0 3-5 3, Tim Evans 0 0-0 0, Andrew Conley 1 0-0 2, Tristan Davis 0 0-0 0, Conor Scott 6 4-8 16, Justin Ore 0 1-2 1, Randy Johnson 0 2-2 2, Mike Anderson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 15-23 64.
NORTH KITSAP (75) - Jacob Gonzales 9 0-0 21, Chris Zeringer 2 0-0 4, Travis Tobin 1 2-2 4, Jordan Henry 4 0-0 12, Mychal Harris 1 0-0 2, Kevin Masnayon 0 0-0 0, Ryan Young 9 4-6 22, Jeff Ottele 0 0-0 0, Eric Schippers 0 0-0 0, Dan Yee 0 0-0 0, Jared Prince 5 0-0 10. Totals: 31 6-8 75.
DIMOND 10 22 9 23 - 64
NORTH KITSAP 21 9 20 26 - 75
3-point goals - Dimond 5 (Lewis 4, Busch 1), North Kitsap 7 (Henry 4, Gonzales 3). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Dimond 12, North Kitsap 17.