To have seen how the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team struggled during its road trip to Anchorage a week ago, the thought of returning home and winning an 11th straight title in the Princess Cruises-Capital City Classic was unimaginable.
But this week the Crimson Bears were like a different team as they rallied to claim their 11th straight championship and 12th crown in 13 years with a 64-53 victory Tuesday over the Newport Harbor Sailors of Newport Beach, Calif., at the JDHS main gym.
"It was a lot different," Juneau sophomore guard Tres Saldivar said. "We were more comfortable and we'd gotten over our first-game jitters."
"We definitely came together," senior forward David Jones added. "Winning gave us a lot of confidence. If we continue to play how we did this week, the next time we go up to Anchorage we'll do a lot better."
The victory gave Juneau (4-3 overall) a perfect 3-0 record in the tournament, a far cry from their 1-3 record in Anchorage. Newport Harbor (9-5 overall) finished 2-1 in the round-robin tourney and took second place.
In Tuesday's other game, the Olympic Trojans of Silverdale, Wash., claimed third place with a 73-50 victory over the North Pole Patriots. The Trojans (4-4 overall) finished the tournament with a 1-2 record, while the Patriots (2-3 overall) went 0-3. Olympic won the team sportsmanship award.
Juneau senior forward Adam Nelson earned tournament MVP honors after stringing together three straight solid outings. Also making the all-tournament team from Juneau were senior guard Alex Heumann and Jones.
Taylor Young, Brett Perrine and Dennis Heenan of Newport Harbor also made the all-tournament team, as did Chester Thomas and Brendan Campbell of Olympic and Chris Powell of North Pole.
"I'm a little bit surprised," Nelson said of the MVP honor. "I thought it would go to Night Owl (Heumann, who won the MVP award last year)."
Nelson said he, Jones and Heumann gave each other nicknames on the Anchorage trip - Nelson is Fearless Caribou, Jones is Spotted Elk and Heumann is Night Owl. They didn't explain the significance of the names, but Nelson locks horns underneath for rebounds, Jones is a leaper and runner in the transition game and Heumann can shoot the lights out from 3-point range.
In Tuesday's game, Nelson scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out three assists, while Jones scored eight points and had two assists and Heumann scored 19 points with three 3-pointers and four rebounds.
Sophomore forward Josh Monagle added 12 points, seven rebounds and four steals for the Crimson Bears, while Larry Cooper and Kyle Huntsman both scored five points.
One thing that killed Juneau during its Anchorage road trip was letting its opponents get off to big runs to open the game. On Tuesday, the Crimson Bears did allow Newport Harbor to take an 18-13 lead in the first quarter and to take a 37-33 lead midway through the third quarter. But both times Juneau battled back to regain the advantage - 29-26 at halftime and 44-39 entering the fourth quarter.
It helped that Juneau made 18 of its 20 free throws for the game, including 16 for 18 in the second half. Newport Harbor only made six of 12 free throws.
"The only times I didn't feel like we played to our capabilities were at the start of the first half and the start of the second half," Nelson said. "But we worked on coming out strong and we made our free throws down the stretch."
"Making our free throws was something we didn't do in our close games up in Anchorage," Heumann said. "It's good to know we can make them in close games."
Perrine led Newport Harbor with 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and three steals. Young added 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots, while Rafael Mouradyan scored seven points and Heenan scored six.
"It was their shooting, they made a lot of 3s in the second quarter," Young said of Juneau. "They were running the ball and we were getting tired in the second half."
"We were fired up, but at halftime we let down," said Perrine, who noted that Newport Harbor was missing 6-foot-8 center Jamie Diefenbach who injured his left knee during Sunday's slam dunk contest. "He'd get a lot of 'O' boards (offensive rebounds) for us."
The Crimson Bears will take a couple of weeks off before hosting the defending Class 4A state runner-up Wasilla Warriors on Jan. 16-17. Last week, Wasilla beat Juneau 48-45 in the fifth-sixth place game at the Service Cougar Tip-Off Classic in Anchorage.
Trojans 73, Patriots 50
Olympic picked up a double-double from Brian Smith, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Trojans to third place in the tournament with a victory over North Pole.
One of the keys for Olympic was the chemistry between Smith and Chester Thomas, who had 14 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists. The two players were housed together during their trip to Juneau and they combined for all but three of Olympic's third-quarter points.
"We stayed together and we'd talk about it, how this was going to be our game," Thomas said. "We were on the same page. Now we can go home with something."
"It was frustrating the first few games," Smith said. "The first game we were banged around a bit and the second game we didn't get any offense going. It felt good to get 70 points today."
Brendan Campbell, who had a double-double in Olympic's loss to Juneau on Monday, scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists, while Josh Jones scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds even though he only played in the fourth quarter.
Jacob Borkovec scored 10 points with three 3-pointers to lead North Pole, while Nick Holt and Dee Johnson both scored eight points. Chris Powell added seven points, 10 rebounds, three blocked shots and three assists for the Patriots, while Marlee Currier grabbed seven rebounds.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRIMSON BEARS 64, SAILORS 53
Tuesday's boys game from JDHS
NEWPORT HARBOR (53) - David Allee 0 0-0 0, Rafael Mouradyan 2 3-5 7, Tom Jackson 0 0-0 0, Robert Hunter 0 0-0 0, Tom Holbrook 0 0-0 0, Brett Perrine 8 0-0 20, Ted Slater 0 0-0 0, Dennis Heenan 3 0-0 6, Taylor Young 6 1-5 13, Sean Eddington 0 0-0 0, Greg Gausewitz 0 0-0 0, Alex Orth 2 0-0 5, Chad Macbeth 0 2-2 2. Totals: 21 6-12 53.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (64) - Larry Cooper 0 5-6 5, Norman Zura 0 0-0 0, Scott Lesh 0 0-0 0, Tom Derbesy 1 0-0 2, Tres Saldivar 1 0-0 3, Luke Miller 0 0-0 0, Clae Baker 0 0-0 0, Alex Heumann 6 4-4 19, Rob Carte 0 0-0 0, Mychal Hutcherson 0 0-0 0, Josh Monagle 4 4-4 12, Kyle Huntsman 0 5-6 5, David Jones 4 0-0 8, Andrew Capacci 0 0-0 0, Adam Nelson 5 0-0 10. Totals: 21 18-20 64.
NEWPORT HARBOR 18 8 13 14 - 53
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 13 16 15 20 - 64
3-point goals - Newport Harbor 5 (Perrine 4, Orth 1), Juneau-Douglas 4 (Heumann 3, Saldivar 1). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Newport Harbor 19, Juneau-Douglas 11.
TROJANS 73, PATRIOTS 50
Tuesday's boys game from JDHS
OLYMPIC (73) - Chester Thomas 6 2-2 14, Mike Fry 1 0-0 2, Reagan Logova 0 1-2 1, Brendan Campbell 4 6-9 15, Josiah Estribor 1 0-0 2, Jeff Shaw 0 2-2 2, Stephen Braun 0 3-5 3, Robert Messing 1 0-0 3, Brian Smith 8 4-4 20, Brad Garrison 2 0-0 4, Josh Jones 2 3-5 7, Travis Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 21-29 73.
NORTH POLE (50) - Matt Zanazzo 0 0-0 0, Brad Seavey 1 0-0 3, Brett Hollingsworth 3 0-0 6, Nick Holt 4 0-0 8, Chris Powell 3 0-0 7, Jacob Borkovec 3 1-2 10, Marlee Currier 2 0-0 4, Charles Spencer 1 0-2 2, Jason Dahlke 1 0-1 2, Dee Johnson 4 0-0 8. Totals: 20 1-5 50.
OLYMPIC 18 23 19 13 - 73
NORTH POLE 15 10 12 13 - 50
3-point goals - Olympic 1 (Messing 1), North Pole 5 (Borkovec 3, Seavey 1, Powell 1). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Olympic 13, North Pole 22.