Thunder Mountain High School girls basketball seniors stand at mid-court prior to a 12:30 p.m. Saturday game against M.t Edgecumbe High School. TMHS won the game 55-34. (Courtesy Photo / Heather Holt)

Big wins, tough losses mark busy week

Juneau teams play packed week of games as regular season winds down.

The Thunder Mountain High School girls basketball team got back to it with a pair of wins on Friday and Saturday.

After two weeks off, TMHS prevailed by scores of 50-43 and 55-34 against Mt. Edgecumbe High School. The 21-point Saturday win was a senior day victory for the Lady Falcons and puts their record at 6-5.

“It’s always emotional,” said TMHS girls coach Andy Lee. “And, you never know which way that’s going to swing in terms of how emotion turns into play.”

Lee credited strong leadership with keeping the team’s mood level and keeping the focus on basketball during an odd, pandemic-shaped season.

“One of the difficulties of having eight seniors is choosing a captain,” Lee said. “But what I’ve emphasized is that anybody can lead.

[TMHS girls play tough defense in trio of wins]

“We have a variety of leaders,” he continued. “We’ve gotten consistent leadership across the board. We have great chemistry, and it shows.”

Lee said the team’s offensive performance has improved noticeably as the season has unfolded and praised the TMHS girls’ balanced scoring attack.

He said since the team gives up height in match-ups against both Juneau-Douglas and Ketchikan high schools, the team has to have a balanced and perimeter-oriented offense.

TMHS had that Friday and Saturday, he said.

While the scoring was spread, Lee highlighted the play of Riley Traxler.

“She played at a consistently high level both games,” Lee said.

He also spoke highly of twin sisters, Mary Neal and Mary Khaye Garcia.

“They drive the offense and key the defense. 90% of the game, one of them was on the floor,” Lee said. “What they bring us is identical high levels of effort.”

The Lady Falcons will next play Juneau-Douglas High School in a pair of crosstown clashes on Friday and Saturday. Tip-off times had yet to be announced.

JDHS Boys (13-1)

The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boys basketball team lost their first game of the season 78-70 Friday, but the Crimson Bears stormed back to improve their record to 13-1 with a win against Ketchikan High School with a score of 80-59 on Saturday.

“We had a three-point lead with the chance to end the game of the regulation, but we didn’t get the defensive stop we needed,” said JDHS boys coach Robert Casperson in a phone interview about their Friday game. “Ketchikan was really dialed in. I would’ve expected nothing less, they had about a month to prepare for the game.”

Ketchikan scored more in overtime on Friday than they did in any single quarter, Casperson said. Senior Brock McCormick is out with a broken thumb suffered during a Mt. Edgecumbe game last week, and senior Garret Bryant was absent on a college visit, Casperson said.

“We were without Brock,” Casperson said. “There’s nothing we can do about that except have him drink a lot of milk.”

The boys team buckled down to win handily on Saturday.

“The Friday night game, they went up 78 points. Normally teams are scoring 54 in a game against us. That was something we took note of,” Casperson said. “We certainly were disappointed with how we played and wanted to see how we responded with the Saturday game. I think they responded.”

Cooper Kriegmont turned in his regular outstanding performance, Casperson said.

“Cooper Kriegmont was his steady stellar self,” Casperson said. “I think he leads us on taking charges this season. I think he’s leading in steals. He’s dialed in.”

JDHS boys will compete against TMHS at Thunder Mountain on Friday and Saturday, Casperson said. Their performance determines whether they’ll hold the number one seed for the region.

“We win one of the two games this weekend, and we lock it up,” Casperson said. “We’ll just go in and do our best.”

TMHS boys (9-3)

The Thunder Mountain boys added another four wins to their record last week with games against Sitka High School on Wednesday and Thursday and contests against Mt. Edgecumbe High School on Friday and Saturday.

It’s the second week in a row in which the Falcons have notched four wins.

“It’s been a nice stretch,” said coach John Blasco in a phone interview.

He said the wins during the trip to Sitka were the result of “a little bit of everybody.” On Wednesday, TMHS beat Sitka High School 56-44 and won on Thursday 58-45. Friday, the Falcons won 72-51 and 68-60 on Saturday.

He said Oliver Mendoza had some particularly nice games and noted Mendoza tallied 20 points in Friday’s victory and 15 points on Saturday.

Thomas Baxter and Meki Toutaiolepo also played well, Blasco said. Toutaiolepo contributed 17 points in the Friday night game. He and Baxter each tallied 14 points on Saturday.

He said a young TMHS team is finding its identity and playing a more selfless brand of basketball.

In addition to the varsity games, Blasco said junior varsity and C teams were able to play over the weekend, too. He complimented Mt. Edgecumbe and Sitka for being great hosts and allowing that to happen.

“We got 12 basketball games in,” Blasco said. “It felt like a normal weekend of basketball. It was slightly refreshing while being exhausting at the same time.”

JDHS girls (7-7)

The JDHS girls split their ticket, beating Mt. Edgecumbe in two games before losing twice to Ketchikan, said coach Steve Potter.

“We went down to Ketchikan and we apparently used all of our scoring. We had eight games in 11 days. It’s that NBA lifestyle,” Potter joked. “Southeast Alaska girl’s basketball, it’s just like the NBA.”

Their bruising schedule hasn’t allowed JDHS much breathing room to work on areas that need polishing, Potter said.

“We’ve identified some areas we need to shore up but we haven’t had enough time to work on it during our abbreviated practice,” Potter said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do that this week.”

Despite rough overall games, some players had solid weekends, Potter said.

“Trinity Jackson had a really big weekend down in Ketchikan. She had a chance to expand her game,” Potter said. “I think she got a career high on Saturday with 17 points.”

JDHS will strive to overcome some of the concerns, Potter said.

“We’re making baby steps but we need to make bigger steps to get over that hump,” Potter said. “We’re not scoring enough points.”

JDHS will play TMHS at home this weekend, with senior night game kicking off at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com. Ben Hohenstatt contributed reporting to this article.

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