Monday's girls basketball matchup between Juneau and Chugiak featured late lead changes, dramatic 3-pointers, a frantic finish and a raucous crowd.
Fortunately for the host Crimson Bears, it only seemed like a state final.
Chugiak used its edge in rebounding and free-throw shooting to claim a wild 60-55 victory over Juneau on the opening day of the 14th annual Capital City Classic at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym.
The Mustangs - helped to a 39-19 rebounding edge by 6-foot-1 senior Kelsey Griffin and 6-foot senior Sarah Neuschwander - battled back from a halftime deficit by going 27-for-40 from the free-throw line, compared to Juneau's 11-for-16 effort.
While Juneau's early pressure resulted in steals, the Crimson Bears - playing their first game of the year - lost some intensity through the game and started committing fouls.
"We stopped moving our feet and started reaching," Juneau coach Lesslie Knight said. "We had a great jump on (Chugiak) in the first quarter, but our defense deteriorated."
"Our intensity dropped," junior Sophia Smith said. "We need to keep it up all the time, and you'll see that the next game."
In Monday's early game, North Kitsap beat Nathan Hale 37-21. The tournament continues today with Chugiak facing North Kitsap at 1 p.m., and Juneau taking on Nathan Hale at 6 p.m. in the JDHS main gym.
Juneau led 10-4 after the first quarter Monday and 22-18 at halftime as the Crimson Bears put heavy pressure on Chugiak ballhandlers. Late in the second quarter, Chugiak lost three straight possessions on turnovers.
"Juneau came out with great intensity and knocked us on our heels," said Chugiak senior Kelsey Griffin, who will play for Nebraska next fall.
Juneau sophomore Talisa Rhea opened the second half with a 3-pointer, and junior Kerstin Kimlinger added a bucket as Juneau took a 27-18 lead. But then the Crimson Bears went on a scoring drought of nearly four minutes, allowing the Mustangs to take a 30-27 edge on four straight free throws by Neuschwander, who went 11-for-12 from the line in the game.
"We've been struggling a bit" on free throws, Griffin said, "but finally it clicked."
Smith stopped Juneau's slump by converting two three-point plays in the span of 21 seconds to put Juneau up 33-32. With four seconds left in the quarter, Smith stole the ball at midcourt, was fouled and drained two free throws with two-10ths of a second on the clock to tie the game at 36-all.
"We've got to score," Smith said after the game of her mindset on that run. "We've got to take it to the hole, and draw a foul."
Chugiak went on an 8-0 run to start the fourth, with Juneau ending the run on a Lexi Garvey basket with 5:10 to play. Juneau narrowed Chugiak's lead to one point - 52-51 - when junior Jordan Harvey put back a rebound of her own missed shot with 1:31 to go. Five seconds later, senior Mary Rehfeld drained two free throws to put Juneau up 53-52.
With the game tied at 55-all and 43 seconds left, Chugiak's Lis DuCharme turned the ball over in front of the Mustang bench. But Juneau failed to convert, and DuCharme made up for the miscue by draining a clutch 3-pointer with 22 seconds left to put Chugiak up for good.
"Sometimes you just feel it," DuCharme said. "Everyone was all scrambled up," so she took the shot.
"The girls recognized the intensity of the game, and stepped up their level of play," Chugiak coach Tracy Adams said.
Junior Sam Dubin led Chugiak (4-0 overall this season) with 17 points, Griffin added 16 points and Neuschwander had 13, and the Mustangs made the most of their edges in size and experience at the post position. Rehfeld scored a game-high 19 points for Juneau (0-1 overall), while Smith added 12 points and Rhea had 10.
Juneau beat Chugiak 49-39 at last season's state tournament, and the two teams will face off again next month at a tourney in Anchorage. Rehfeld said she's looking forward to the rest of the season.
"We had many, many (good) plays that tied it up," Rehfeld said of Monday's game. "We're in really good shape. I think a lot of people stepped up, which is huge after losing five seniors" from last year's team.
JDHS cheerleader ReBecca Troutt sang the national anthem and Cub Scout Pack 10 from Douglas Community United Methodist Church presented the colors prior to the game.
Vikings 37, Raiders 21
The tournament got off to a sluggish start, but North Kitsap pulled away with a 22-11 run over the second and third quarters to beat fellow Washington state school Nathan Hale.
Senior center Katie Swanlund scored 12 points and junior forward Jenna Reed added 10 for the Vikings, who hail from Poulsbo, Wash. The Raiders, from Seattle, got six points from Elis Knutzen.
North Kitsap led 8-4 after the first quarter before building a 17-10 lead at halftime. The Vikings held Nathan Hale's leading scorer, senior guard Samantha Andya, to a single 3-pointer.
North Kitsap improved to 2-4 overall this season. Nathan Hale fell to 2-6.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MUSTANGS 60, CRIMSON BEARS 55
Monday's girls game from JDHS
CHUGIAK (60) - Erin Murphy 0 0-0 0, Ashley Finch 0 0-1 0, Danielle Campoamor 0 2-2 2, Sam Dubin 3 9-11 17, Kelsey Griffin 6 4-6 16, Lis DuCharme 2 0-2 5, Kyle Jennings 0 0-0 0, Sarah Neuschwander 1 11-12 13, Sara Courtright 1 1-2 3, Karly Vierick 2 0-4 4. Totals: 15 27-40 60.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (55) - Talisa Rhea 4 0-0 10, Lexi Garvey 2 1-3 5, Jordan Harvey 1 1-2 3, Kerstin Kimlinger 1 0-0 2, Sophia Smith 3 5-7 12, Mary Rehfeld 7 4-4 19, Kate Potter 0 0-0 0, Ashley Larson 0 0-0 0, Nicole Fenumiai 0 0-0 0, Andrea Doerflinger 2 0-0 4. Totals: 20 11-16 55.
CHUGIAK 4 14 18 24 - 60
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 10 12 14 19 - 55
3-point goals - Chugiak 3 (Dubin 2, DuCharme 1), Juneau-Douglas 4 (Rhea 2, Smith 1, Rehfeld 1). Fouled out - Chugiak 0, Juneau-Douglas 2 (Rhea, Garvey). Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Chugiak 15, Juneau-Douglas 28.
VIKINGS 37, RAIDERS 21
Monday's girls game from JDHS
NATHAN HALE (21) - Melissa Chandler 1 0-0 2, Naomi Tilden 0 0-0 0, Samantha Andya 1 0-0 3, Emma Ellis 0 0-2 0, Elis Knutzen 3 0-0 6, Mariah McAfee 0 0-0 0, Maia Pursell 1 2-4 4, Julie Un 1 0-0 3, Leslie Geiss 0 0-0 0, Cat Emma Shull 1 1-2 3, Amy Woolley 0 0-0 0, Nicol Tran 0 0-0 0. Totals: 8 3-8 21.
NORTH KITSAP (37) - Katie West 2 0-0 6, Ali Lydick 0 0-0 0, Jessie Eadie 1 0-0 2, Molly McCluskey 3 1-2 7, Kristen Sprague 0 0-0 0, Val Palsdottir 0 0-0 0, Katie Swanlund 6 0-2 12, Jonna Reed 5 0-2 10, Jennifer Buckner 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 1-6 37.
NATHAN HALE 4 6 5 6 - 21
NORTH KITSAP 8 9 14 6 - 37
3-point goals - Nathan Hale 2 (Andya 1, Un 1), North Kitsap 2 (West 2). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Nathan Hale 8, North Kitsap 11.