Coach Robert Casperson had had his fair share of players with above-average height.
There were the Swofford brothers, Bruce Jones and Erik Kelly — all skilled big men 6-foot-5 or taller who have come through the program over the last decade.
This season will be different. Tristan Bryant, a 6-foot-4 senior, is the tallest player on the team, and one of just five Crimson Bears standing north of 6 feet.
“We’ve just kind of always had someone in that spot,” Casperson said. “This year, we don’t.”
In addition to being a smaller team this year, JDHS will also be fairly inexperienced. Senior captain Israel Yadao is the only returning starter from last year’s team that went 14-16 and won the Region V 4A championship for the third consecutive year. The team will be quicker this season, though, and feature a more balanced offensive attack. Filling in their places of the six departed seniors will be the job of Cooper Kriegmont, Philip Gonzales, Krishant Samtani and Brock McCormick.
In the Crimson Bears season-opening loss to Shadow Ridge at the Tarkanian Classic, nine different players got on the scoresheet.
“They saw the writing on the wall, with what we were losing from last year’s senior class,” Casperson said. “We’re not going to replace certainly the height or athleticism, but I would say overall, our team speed is a lot better. We’re going to see players moving quicker and the ball should be moving quicker. We’re going to try to play a completely different way out of necessity. I think it’s going to end up being pretty fun as we’re learning how to do that together.”
Kriegmont, a sophomore, was the high-point scorer that game and in two others at the tournament, averaging 16 points a game. He said a priority this season will be to penetrate defenses in order to generate open 3-point shots.
“This year we don’t really have any big post guys so our main goal is to get in the lane, get fouled or kick it out because we have some shooters,” Kriegmont said. “I think that’s going to be our main focus this year is knocking down those 3-pointers.”
2018-19 season schedule
(Home games in bold)
Dec. 27 Capital City Classic- Lathrop, 7 p.m.
Dec. 28 Capital City Classic- Barrow, 7 p.m.
Dec. 29 Capital City Classic- Maine-Endwell, 7 p.m.
Jan. 10 Colony, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11-12 Ketchikan, 8 pm.
Jan. 17-19 South O’Brady’s Invitational Tournament (Anchorage)
Jan. 25-26 Thunder Mountain, 8 p.m.
Jan. 31 Service 7 p.m.
Feb. 1-2 at Ketchikan
Feb. 8-9 East, 7 p.m.
Feb. 15 at TMHS, 8 p.m.
Feb. 16 at TMHS, 8 p.m.
Feb. 21 at Sitka
Feb. 22-23 at Mt. Edgecumbe
March 5-9 Region V 4A Tournament (Sitka)
*All home games will be played at the JDHS main gym.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.