For a few seconds, it looked like the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team might let things slip away -- both Saturday night's round-robin game against the Kentlake (Kent, Wash.) Falcons and the championship of Capital City Classic.
The Crimson Bears, who led by 10 points entering the final quarter, gave up a pair of 3-pointers in the final 10.7 seconds of Saturday's game. But they managed to hold on to edge Kentlake 71-70, giving Juneau its eighth straight Capital City Classic championship and ninth in the 10-year history of the tournament.
"It seemed like everything was falling for them," Juneau sophomore guard Joe Ayers said after scoring 11 points, including making nine of 10 free throws. "But as long as the clock kept running, we were OK. The seniors really wanted to keep that winning streak going."
Juneau (3-0 overall this season) fell behind early, as Kentlake (5-4 overall, 1-2 in the tournament) jumped out to a 12-4 lead early in the first quarter. But the Crimson Bears came back to tie the score at 12-12, before letting the Falcons jump out to another lead of 23-16. The Crimson Bears closed out the last half of the second quarter with a 19-6 run, giving Juneau a 35-29 halftime lead.
Juneau inched its margin up a couple of times in the second half, but the Falcons never let Juneau get too far in front until the end of the third quarter when the Crimson Bears took a 57-47 lead. Even though Juneau didn't have a large run in the third quarter, the Crimson Bears nailed four 3-pointers in the period when Kentlake was only making layups.
In the fourth quarter, it was Kentlake's turn to make 3-pointers as the Falcons hit four in the quarter, including the two late ones that nearly erased Juneau's lead. Kentlake also started fouling Juneau as time ran down, but the Crimson Bears were able to convert 12 of their 14 shots from the free-throw line.
Also in the fourth quarter, Juneau junior guard Curtis Lane drew two charging fouls to keep Kentlake from gaining any momentum. On the first charging call, Kentlake threw a lob pass over the top of Juneau's defense, but Lane hustled back and was able to get set as Matt Cole went up for the layup. Instead of Kentlake scoring on a breakaway, Cole's points came off the board and he fouled out of the game.
"They were finding everybody, so I started back to do something," Lane said, adding that Juneau's developing a bad habit of spotting its opponents 10 or 12 points at the start of the game. "If we do the same thing we did today, and yesterday (in a 64-56 victory over Dimond), against East next weekend we'll lose."
Juneau forward James Severin scored a game-high 19 points, but he didn't find the net until late in the second quarter. But once he got untracked, Severin had one stretch where he scored 10 straight points for Juneau. Severin earned tournament MVP honors for his efforts.
"We hardly knew what hit us," Severin said of Kentlake's early lead. "It seemed like the other team wanted it more. But once things started to click, we were fine."
Lane added 17 points for Juneau, while Ayers and Ryan Monagle scored 11 points each.
Jeff Thomas scored 15 points to lead Kentlake, while the quartet of Jeff Rountree, Kenny Jackson, Cole and Chris Jordan had 10 points apiece.
"We missed some easy shots and we only made five of 10 free throws in the first quarter," Kentlake coach Chris Carr said. "We could have been up by about 15 points if we'd made our free throws in the first quarter. But I think the key was Juneau hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter. I think this (the tournament) helped us a lot. Playing in this kind of an environment will help us when we begin league play next week."
Juneau-Douglas 64, Dimond 56
In Friday's game, Juneau's depth proved to be too much for the Dimond Lynx as the Crimson Bears wore out Dimond in claiming a 64-56 victory.
The last time the two teams played was in the semifinals of the Class 4A state basketball tournament in March, with Dimond coming from behind to edge Juneau and advance to last year's state title game against eventual champion East Anchorage. In two weeks, Juneau will play in Dimond's Alaska Prep Shootout (Jan. 11-13) where the teams could meet again in the semifinals.
"This was all about revenge," Juneau guard Clay Brown said.
The Lynx jumped out to a 17-5 lead midway through the first quarter, but Dimond fouls and fatigue helped Juneau close the margin. Juneau also rode a 16-4 run that saw the Crimson Bears go from a 19-8 deficit to a 27-23 lead midway through the second quarter. Dimond answered with a 10-2 run to regain the lead 33-27, but that would be Dimond's last real stand of the game.
Dimond still led 36-35 at halftime, but Julius "Junior" Cumlat opened the third quarter with a pair of buckets and Juneau never trailed again. The Crimson Bears led by 10, 56-46, at the end of the third quarter and held on through the fourth.
"We're a good hustling team, but they go 10 deep and that's something that got us," Dimond's Brandon Joseph said after leading the Lynx with 28 points.
"The depth was a factor," Dimond coach Jeff Jones said. "It was considerable. We got in foul trouble, and Kenard (Walker, Dimond's point guard) had two fouls in the first two minutes."
When Juneau got behind in the first quarter, boys coach George Houston never called a timeout, instead letting his players work through the momentary lapses of concentration. On every dead ball, the Crimson Bears met in a quick huddle to discuss strategy and to motivate each other.
"They came out pretty strong," Brown said. "But I think our depth overcame them. That's been one little thing we haven't done well this year. It takes until the second quarter for us get going. We'll make it our goal tomorrow, to come out strong in the first quarter."
"We can't spot teams 10 to 12 points like that," Juneau forward James Severin said. "We'll see if we can't find a way to come out and be better at the start of the game."
Severin scored 22 points to lead Juneau, with none of those points coming in the first quarter. Curtis Lane added 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers that sparked Juneau's 16-4 run in the first and second quarters. Just before the run started, Lane had another 3-pointer negated by a double-foul call underneath the basket.
"Those threes were the turning point," Joseph said.
"They got the crowd going," said Lane, who won the tournament's 3-point shooting contest on Thursday. "That (the disallowed three) was in the air before the fouls. Coach (George Houston) let me have the green light."
Ryan Monagle and Brown both scored nine points for Juneau. Besides Joseph, the only other Dimond player to reach double figures in scoring was Kenard Walker who finished with 11 points.