Thunder Mountain’s Neal Garcia, left, and Juneau-Douglas’ Sadie Tuckwood chase down a loose ball at JDHS on Friday. TMHS lost 53-33 on Friday but won 33-29 on Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain upsets poor-shooting Crimson Bears

It’s hard to dream up sweeter circumstances with which the Thunder Mountain High School girls basketball could have ended a 12-game losing streak.

Their 33-29 win Saturday night came against their rivals, Juneau-Douglas High School, at JDHS, fresh off three straight conference losses of 20 points or more and three days before the Region V tournament tips off.

And so when the final buzzer sounded after four quarters of grind-it-out basketball, the Lady Falcons screamed in celebration at center court in a makeshift moshpit.

It was TMHS head coach Chandler Christensen and just about every one of her players’ first career win over JDHS. Thunder Mountain last defeated JDHS in the first round of the 2016 Region V tournament.

How proud was Christensen after the win?

“I don’t even know that I have words for it,” she said. “How hard they played, it’s just phenomenal. Seeing how we started out the season, the trials and tribulations we’ve been through, for them to finally come together and realize that they can do it. … We as coaches knew that they had this in them all season, but now they’ve seen it.”

Nina Fenumiai scored 13 points and Kira Frommherz added eight. Tasi Fenumiai and Andee Johnson each scored four points.

Juneau-Douglas’ Caitlin Pusich scored 18 points but couldn’t find her outside shot in the second and third quarters when JDHS scored five total points. No other Crimson Bear had more than four points in the senior night loss.

In the second quarter, Nina Fenumiai scored four points off steals.

With just one minute remaining in the half, Fenumiai stole the ball from Pusich and drew a foul on her layup attempt. Her two made free throws put TMHS up 17-14, which stood as the halftime score.

JDHS started the third quarter with two missed layups and made just one field goal in the entire quarter. TMHS had its own scoring troubles though and led 23-17 at the end of the period.

The Lady Falcons’ full-court press provided a lift when Tasi Fenumiai stole a crosscourt pass in front of her basket and continued in stride for a layup. The basket put TMHS up 27-21.

“I didn’t think I was going to do it, I thought the ball was going to go over my head, make myself look like a fool,” Tasi Fenumiai said. “But right after I made it, it finally clicked, like, ‘Oh my God, I did that.’”

The sophomore then found Andee Johnson on the fastbreak and scored on a putback to put TMHS up 31-21 with a little over two minutes left.

Pusich and Kiana Potter clipped the deficit to five, but TMHS made two free throws and JDHS missed two of theirs in the final minute.

On her senior night, Cassie Dzinich started the game for JDHS and managed to run up and down the court twice with a torn ACL. Dzinich was subbed out for Jenae Pusich with 7:38 remaining in the quarter.

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or

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