Juneau-Douglas’ Cassie Dzinich, right, is fouled by Sutherlin’s Taylor Moser during their Capital City Classic Basketball Tournament game at JDHS on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Crimson Bears girls grind out physical win over Bulldogs

Sutherlin High School — Juneau-Douglas High School’s opponent Thursday — has the Bulldog as its mascot.

At Thursday night’s Princess Cruises Capital City Classic game, both teams embodied the spirit of the bulldog. Fighting hard for loose balls at every opportunity of the game, JDHS won 50-43, marking the team’s first victory of the young season.

Senior Cassie Dzinich scored a team-high 21 points. Dzinich was the favorite target of the JDHS guards, whose aggressive play matched that of Sutherlin’s guards Kiersten Haines and Kiersten Porter.

“We try to contain our aggressiveness,” Dzinich said. “I think tonight it was just the energy and we’re still trying to figure out how to channel the energy.”

Caitlin Pusich, normally known for her energy on offense, made repeated blocks in the second half to fend off the Bulldogs.

Haines scored 18 points thanks to a hot-shooting night from the 3-point line, where she collected 12 of her points.

The Bulldogs took a 8-6 lead with just over three minutes into the first quarter. Dzinich then went on her own 6-0 run, displaying slick post moves to give JDHS the lead back.

It was a rare game this season, now six games in, that Dzinich, just shy of 6-feet tall, was guarded by someone shorter than herself.

“It’s always difficult to make your presence known when you’re up against super tall girls and super strong girls,” Dzinich said. “I can get a few points here and there — but it’s easier when the team is not as tall.”

The Bulldogs would climb back into the game in the second quarter, tying the game at 15-15 and 17-17. The Crimson Bears led at halftime though, 26-22.

JDHS maintained a slim margin throughout the third quarter until the very end, when sisters Caitlin and Janae Pusich and Alyxn Bohulano scored eight points in the final two minutes.

The Bulldogs got within five points in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer. With five minutes remaining in the game, Porter collided hard with another teammate under her own basket. The 5 foot, 5 inches junior guard was in a positive mood after the game though.

She said one of her biggest concerns was playing defense on Caitlin Pusich, whose family is housing her and her teammate this week during the tournament.

“I didn’t want her to be mad at me for guarding her once we go home,” Porter said.

The JDHS girls play their final game of the Capital City Classic against Chugiak on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Sutherlin Bulldogs face East Anchorage at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

East Anchorage 65, Chugiak 43

The East Anchorage Thunder Birds continued to handle the competition at the Classic, winning 65-43 over Chugiak Thursday afternoon.

Through two games, the Thunder Birds have outscored their opponent by an average of 26 points. East plays Sutherlin on Saturday with their undefeated tournament record on the line. Chugiak will try to rebound from the loss on Saturday when they take on Juneau-Douglas High School.

East’s Azaria Robinson scored 27 points despite going just 3 of 11 from the free-throw line. Skye Miller made three 3-pointers in the third quarter and finished 18 points for the Thunder Birds.

Chugiak’s Chasity Horn scored 21 points but was held to three points in the third quarter when the Mustangs were outscored 17-5.

East led 30-25 at halftime.

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nolin.ainsworth@juneauempire.com.

Juneau-Douglas’ Janae Pusich shoots against Sutherlin’s Sydnee Tilley during their Capital City Classic Basketball Tournament game at JDHS on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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