The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team won its ninth straight Princess Capital City Classic by defeating California's Mills High School Vikings 54-51 at the JDHS main gymnasium Saturday night. On Friday, the Bears crushed California's San Pedro High School, 69-39.
After two straight blowouts on Thursday and Friday against teams that previously defeated Mills in the tournament, it could be easy to deduce that the Crimson Bears were headed into another easy game. But Juneau head coach George Houston did not think that at all.
"You can't compare scores like that," Houston said, "They presented a different style and different matchups. They were big and strong a created problems for us. They didn't come all the way here from California to be a patsy. They're competitors."
For the third straight game, Juneau looked rusty at the start. The Bears didn't put any points on the scoreboard until 2:43 left in the first quarter and trailed 24-16 at the 3:32 mark of the second quarter.
That's when Curtis Lane found his shooting touch and nail four consecutive 3-pointers in under two minutes, giving the Crimson Bears a 28-24 lead heading into the half.
"We rode that pony till it died," Houston said referring to Lanes' 3-pointers.
Juneau came out in the second half and extended their lead to 38-30 on a drive by Ryan Monagle, and the Bears looked to have the game under control. But Mills had other ideas and scored four baskets in a row to tie the game at 38-38 with a minute to go in the third quarter.
The Crimson Bears succeeded in fending off Mills until two minutes to go when the Vikings' Matt Salyer drove the lane to tie it up again at 49-49. Bill Vlahiotis put Mills in the lead at 51-49 on a pair of free throws with 1:38 to go.
The Bears took the lead with 33 seconds to go on a tip-in by Monagle after a miss by Byron Wild. But Wild hustled back down the court and came away with a rebound on a 8-foot miss by Salyer and was fouled in the process. Wild hit both of his free throws, giving the Bears a 54-51 lead with 11.8 seconds to go.
Salyer had one last chance to tie the game for Mills, but his three-point attempt fell short.
"Juneau is a very aggressive, disciplined team and they kept after us," Mills head coach bob Thompson said. "They are the type of team we've trained to beat, but we still have to fill some gaps. We didn't play very well in our first two games against different kinds of teams. But these are the types of teams we have to play in our conference."
"Mills played a hell of a game," Houston said. "It was a good win for us. Mills played much better tonight than their other two games."
Lane led the Bears in scoring with 14 points, Monagle had 12 and Wild added 11. For Mills, Salyer had 12, Vlahiotis scored 11 and Tafralis pitched in 10.
Monagle was named the tournament's most valuable player. He averaged 12.7 points in three games and was for the most part, the catalyst for the Crimson Bears offense. Cumlat and Wild also made the all-tourney team and Craig Kitka was given the sportsmanship award.
"It was a good three games for us," Houston said. It's similar to what we see at the southeast and state tournaments. It gives us a lead-in like that -- practices can only simulate so much. Overall, we see things we need to get better at as a group though."
The rest of the all-tournament team included East Anchorage's Bennie Holt and Levai Ofiu, Mills' Tafralis, and San Pedro's Robert Ellet and Joe Guestella.
In the skills competition, Juneau's Adam Nelson won the free throw competition, San Pedro's Guestella won the three-point competition and San Pedro's Ryan Johnson won the slam dunk competition.
In Friday's game, Byron Wild just missed his first career double-double by leading all scorers with 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds and Bryan Hamey scored 11 points with two three-pointers to lead a balanced Crimson Bear scoring attack.
It was the best game of Wild's career and along with strong forward Jake Miller, they held San Pedro center Johnson scoreless until 1:35 to go in the first half. Johnson, who scored 16 points against Mills on Thursday and 23 against East Anchorage in Saturday's early game ended the game with 12 points, but most came after the Crimson Bears already had the game well in hand.
"Byron just kept at it," Houston said. "I didn't realize he was our leading scorer and I didn't realize Bryan Hamey had 11 points."
Johnson was frustrated by Juneau's tough inside defense all night and finally lost his cool midway through the fourth when he was called for an intentional foul for throwing a viscous elbow that caught Kitka in the mouth.
"He (Johnson) wasn't any problem," Wild said. "Looking at him, he was athletic, strong, big and quick, but if he doesn't have the ball, he can't do what they scout us out to do. They came out trying to intimidate us. I think that was their gameplan to try to intimidate us."
Juneau started slow for the second-straight game and found themselves down 6-2 midway through the first quarter. However, the Bears took charge from there and went on a 16-0 run that was capped off by Cumlat who twice pick-pocketed San Pedro's Guestella and went the other way for uncontested lay-ups and a 18-6 lead for the Bears.
Cumlat came alive after a quiet game in Juneau's season opener on Thursday. He score eight points, all in the first half to go with his seven assists and four steals.
"That's the way he (Cumlat) has to play," Houston said. "He needs to use his quickness to frustrate the other players."
San Pedro got as close as 19-13 until the Crimson Bears pulled away for a 27-15 halftime lead and continued to dominate the rest of the way.
Lane, who hadn't scored until 3:40 to go, ended up with nine points as did Monagle. Sterling Henderson scored six and Joe Ayers added four.
San Pedro was led in scoring by Johnson who was the only Pirate to score in double figures. Robert Ellet scored six and Tykeno Miles added four points.
The Crimson Bears have three weeks off before hosting southeast rival Ketchikan on Jan. 18-19.
Pirates 62, Thunderbirds 60
Ryan Johnson scored a game-high 23 points to lead San Pedro past East Anchorage 62-60 in Saturday's matinee matchup. San Pedro ended the Princess Capital City Classic in second place with a 2-1 record with their only loss coming to Juneau 69-39 on Friday night.
Joe Guestella and Jesse Valero added 12 and 10 points, respectively, including two three-pointers apiece to round out the Pirates' high scorers.
Bennie Holt led the Thunderbirds with 16 and Jonathon Zuker added 12 while Philip Collins and Dominic Delaney scored 10 points each.
With 20 seconds to go and trailing 61-58, East had a chance to tie the game, but Zuker elected for an easy lay-up instead of going for the tie with a three-pointer. It brought the score to 61-60 and East quickly fouled after the in-bounds pass, putting Joe Gudstella to the line for two shots. Gudstella made the first free throw and missed the second, but East was unable to get the rebound as time ran out.
The loss dropped East's record to 1-2 on the season for last year's state runner-up.
Thunderbirds 55, Vikings 45
Mills High School jumped out an early 12-6 lead after the first quarter, but East Anchorage came back for a 55-45 win in Friday's early boys game.
Ben Robinson led all scorers with 17 points while Levai Ofiu scored 12 and Bennie Holt added 10 for the Thunderbirds who evened their record to 1-1 after getting trounced by Juneau a night earlier.
The Vikings' scoring was evenly distributed with Jeff Bilinski and Matt Sayler leading the way with nine points each. Jon Burroughs and Nick Common each scored eight for Mills and Adam Tafralis added seven.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.