It was Round 2 of the week for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Thunder Mountain High School basketball teams on Thursday night after a Wednesday snowstorm postponed a second conference game between the cross-town rivals. Thursday night also served as senior night for JDHS.
The home games brought disparate results for the boys and girls teams, with the JDHS boys prevailing to improve their record against TMHS on the season to 3-1, and the JDHS girls faltering to put their record in cross-town contests at 0-4.
The TMHS girls managed to pull ahead slightly during the first quarter and it’s a lead they would never relinquish with a final score of 58-45. TMHS twin terrors Cailynn and Kerra Baxter tied for the scoring lead with 17 points each while JDHS freshman Gwen Nizich led her team with 13 points. TMHS coach Andy Lee said the team has learned a lot over the season where they’re now able to capitalize on mistakes made early on.
“If you don’t turn your mistakes into productivity and learning then they just stay mistakes and you keep repeating them, we’re not making the same mistakes,” Lee said. “We’re not the same team we were a week ago or a month ago, and mostly it comes down to effort. We’re getting closer to playing 32 minutes of effort, we’re not there yet. We had moments of spectacular defense and we scored some points off of that defense. Our chemistry and comradery is coming along, it’s the intangibles for us, we’re young but we’re fundamentally sound and we have good athletes. It was a total team effort, one through 12 and the result was we scored a few more points tonight, that was the difference.”
With Friday night’s win, TMHS girls team now get a little extra time off heading into the Region V tournament, where they will be the top-seeded team in their bracket, a position that Lee said the team has never been in before. Additionally, Lee said having the downtime for prep will be useful, similarly to having the day off from Wednesday’s snowstorm.
“I think the disadvantage is you don’t know who you’re going to play but the advantage is you don’t have to play, so I’m going to cheer for both teams, we have a tough conference, you can look at the state seedings, all three of our teams are top seven, so we’re just going to get ready,” Lee said. “We had a decisive victory leading Ketchikan by 22 points, we got a decisive victory tonight and I’m hoping that says we’re peaking at the right time.”
After seniors were honored at the end of the girls game, the boys basketball teams took center stage for a match that would ultimately fall in the Crimson Bears favor, 73-63. JDHS senior Orion Dybdahl had a big game with 22 points with TMHS junior Lance Nierra and senior MJ Tupou tying for their team’s lead with 18 points. JDHS coach Robert Casperson said he was especially proud of the team for staying focused through the heavy emotions of a “deservedly” celebrated senior night.
“We’ve talked about that all season, just the idea of not letting our highs get too high or our lows get too low,” Casperson said. “It’s good to feed off of that emotion, but maintain it, so I think we did that really well tonight. I thought the seniors that started the game who don’t typically start gave us a great lift and did an excellent job with Mesdag and Nelson, so it was just a lot of fun. The game got tight there and we made some mistakes, but a team like Thunder Mountain isn’t going to quit, they keep battling and we expect that from them, so I’m just happy with the way that we finished the game and secured the win.”
The Crimson Bears previously locked up the top seed in the Region V tournament.
After Thursday’s games, the TMHS boys now sit at 8-16 and 3-5 in conference, with the JDHS boys at 16-9 and 6-2 in conference. The TMHS girls’ record now sits at 17-7 and 6-2 in conference and JDHS girls are at 14-10 and 3-5. The Region V 2A and 4A Tournament is scheduled to begin on March 8 at Thunder Mountain High School.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com.