High school basketball will see the boys Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and the girls of Thunder Mountain High School square off against Ketchikan beginning Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

High school basketball will see the boys Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and the girls of Thunder Mountain High School square off against Ketchikan beginning Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Back in battery: JDHS coach talks return of boy’s team to court

JDHS’ boys team and THMS girls will play Ketchikan beginning Friday evening.

Friday marks the return of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s boys teams, as well as the Thunder Mountain High School’s girls teams, to the basketball court against visiting Ketchikan.

So how does at least one coach feel about it?

“In a word: thankful. That’s the bottom line. It was almost emotional watching the girls get to play their game last night,” said JDHS boys basketball coach Rob Casperson in a phone interview. “That excitement, that anticipation, that vibe was there.”

A truncated season is better than none, Casperson, letting the students have a chance to get on the court and compete.

“It was great to see the kids getting out there and return to normalcy,” he said. “I’m grateful for the people who’ve allowed us to do this, to get the chance to play, to do something. It’s all in an effort to give the kids the chance to participate.”

While the JDHS girls coached by Steve Potter played their matches against Ketchikan on Wednesday and Thursday nights, Casperson’s boys will get their chance Friday night. Casperson said the moments he caught observing the girl’s games were inspiring, even if fans haven’t been allowed to return under Alaska School Activities Association guidelines.

[President signals plans to halt oil activity in Arctic refuge]

“The sounds of the gym — the cheerleaders are back in the gym, and it sounds amazing. The dance team was supposed to perform,” Casperson said. “The pep band was there. It was good to see, it was heartwarming.”

The coming bout with Ketchikan isn’t something anyone can call at this time, Casperson said. There are a number of factors to balance on both sides.

“Ketchikan is a tough opponent. They were able to do things like practice and have open gyms because their city was in a different status,” Casperson said. “We are senior-heavy this season. I anticipate that will benefit us in the sense that a lot of them have played in games.”

The players are ready to get after it, Casperson said.

“They’re really excited. It’s palpable,” Casperson said. “Especially coming in this week, it’s been a different vibe at practice. They’re dialed in right now.”

Factors like empty stands and wearing masks while competing shouldn’t affect players, Casperson said.

“It’s because it’s how we’ve practiced. We’ve been practicing with masks on since day one. It was uncomfortable at first, but they adapted quickly. They understand that’s what they have to do if they want to be in the gym,” Casperson said. “We don’t have fans in practice. It’s just the guys, just working hard.”

A number of returning seniors form a hard core of leadership and experience for the Crimson Bears, Casperson said, including returning captains Cooper Kriegmont and Brock McCormick.

Seniors Garret Bryant, Lope Elizarde and Malakai Nichols round out a squad looking for victory. They couldn’t do it without the support of the community, Casperson said, even if that community can’t express it at the games in person.

“We absolutely appreciate their support in these times,” Casperson said. “I hope they tune into the livestream and that they get some enjoyment knowing that the kids are getting to play.”

Watch it here

JDHS Boys vs. Ketchikan

JV: 5 p.m.

Varsity: 7 p.m.

TMHS Girls vs. Ketchikan

JV: 5 p.m.

Varsity: 7 p.m.

More in Sports

Courtesy photo / Heather Holt
The Thunder Mountain High School varsity boys beat Sitka in an away game Feb. 19.
Juneau basketball teams have solid weekend of games, home and away

JDHS boys continue their undefeated streak, now 12-0

Meki Toutaoilepo rises up for a shot against Mt. Edgecumbe High School. Thunder Mountain High School won makes against MEHS on Wednesday and Thursday. (Courtesy Photo / Heather Holt)
Juneau hoops teams notch six wins in stuffed week

JDHS boys, girls and TMHS boys all notch victories.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Coach’s Comments: JDHS boys basketball

Submitted by Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boys basketball coach Robert Casperson.

Youths play sandlot baseball at Miller Field in the summer of 2020. After COVID-19 sidelined a competitive season last summer, local players gathered to play sandlot ball. Thanks to a city-approved COVID-19 mitigation plan, the Gastineau Channel Baseball and Softball Leagues are planning a full, competitive season this summer. Registration is now open for players between the ages of 5 and 16. (Courtesy Photo / Geoff Kirsch)
Take me out to the ball game

The Gastineau Channel Baseball and Softball Leagues expect a full, competitive season.

Thunder Mountain High School player Mackenzie Gray, left, competes with Mt. Edgecumbe High Schoool in Sitka on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. (Sitka Sentinel / James Poulson)
TMHS girls play tough defense in trio of games

The Lady Falcons were the only basketball team who got to compete this weekend.

In this March 2018 photo,  Aliy Zirkle runs her team during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska. There has been another dramatic change to the world’s most famous sled dog race this year because of the pandemic, with officials announcing Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, that the ceremonial start has been canceled. (AP Photo / Michael Dinneen)
Iditarod drops ceremonial start over crowd-size concerns

Officials announced Friday that the ceremonial start has been canceled.

Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé player Tias Carney shoots during a game against Thunder Mountain High School on Jan. 30, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Lexie Razor)
JDHS boys and girls outplay TMHS over weekend of games

The crosstown rivalry is settled until the next games.

Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé senior Cooper Kriegmont shoots during a basketball game against Ketchikan on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Kriegmont scored his 1,000th point during the two-game series. (Courtesy photo / Lexie Razor)
Shoot well, shoot often: JDHS player crosses 1,000-point mark

The senior credited his coaches and his teammates for the opportunities

Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé senior Cooper Kriegmont shoots during a basketball game against Ketchikan on Friday,  Jan. 22, 2021. Kriegmont scored his 1,000th point during the two-game series. (Courtesy photo / Lexie Razor)
Good to be back: Short run up leads to mixed results against Ketchikan

“It doesn’t matter what the outcomes were,.”

High school basketball will see the boys Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and the girls of Thunder Mountain High School square off against Ketchikan beginning Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Back in battery: JDHS coach talks return of boy’s team to court

JDHS’ boys team and THMS girls will play Ketchikan beginning Friday evening.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom, right, wearing a bib with ExxonMobil lettering on it, congratulates Peter Kaiser on his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor as the Iditarod prepares for a scaled-back version of this year’s race because of the pandemic, officials said Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. ExxonMobil confirmed to The Associated Press that the oil giant will drop its sponsorship of the race. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
ExxonMobil becomes latest sponsor to sever Iditarod ties

The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire 
High school basketball games in Juneau will resume with empty bleachers on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 as local teams face off against Ketchikan.
Basketball teams get ready to rumble after shortened preseason

The audience will be at home, but basketball is basketball.