Juneau-Douglas’ Caitlin Pusich, center, intercepts the ball between East’s Fua Filoialii, left, and Jayla Jordan at the Princess Cruises Capital City Classic at Juneau-Douglas High School on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. East won 57-55. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas’ Caitlin Pusich, center, intercepts the ball between East’s Fua Filoialii, left, and Jayla Jordan at the Princess Cruises Capital City Classic at Juneau-Douglas High School on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. East won 57-55. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

East takes Classic crown over JDHS

Pusich’s 3’s not enough for upset

It took most of the second half, but the East Anchorage High School girls finally learned their lesson.

After giving up four 3-pointers to Juneau-Douglas senior Caitlin Pusich in the third and fourth quarters, the Thunderbirds clamped down on the 5-foot-10-inch shooting guard on a key possession that lead to a 57-55 win in Princess Cruises Capital City Classic championship game at JDHS on Saturday night. The Thunderbirds won the Juneau tournament last season as well.

“I’m glad that my girls fought, and that’s what we’re going to have to do every game, we’re going to have to fight for every game,” East coach Laura Ingham said. “There’s nothing that’s going to be easy for us.”

Pusich finished with 23 points, Skylar Hickok had nine and Kiana Potter had seven for Juneau.

“We had some mental breakdowns throughout the game,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “We haven’t given up a run-out layup all year and we gave up several. We have pretty firm rules about defensively how that should never happen but for whatever reason people didn’t follow the rules (or) we were confused on who we had.

“It’s our first real pressure game, and for some of those kids, it’s the first time they’ve gotten to play in a pressure situation.”

JDHS won its previous four games by 15 or more points.

Fua Filoialii led East with 15 points, Skye Miller scored 12 points and Kimora Nicdao scored eight points.

Down three points with 23 seconds left, JDHS inbounded the ball on its own baseline with a chance to send the game into overtime.

Pusich passed the ball in to Potter and tried to spring herself free, running clockwise along the baseline and around to the top of the key, but Filoialii stayed with her every step of the way, keeping her from getting the ball. After a JDHS miss, Filoialii iced the game with a layup on the other end.

The game seemed to be over with three minutes left. After leading by four, the Thunderbirds quickly shot ahead by nine points on baskets by Miller and Silika Taualii.

But a Pusich 3-pointer sparked a 8-2 run, bringing the Crimson Bears within 50-47 with just over a minute left. Filoialii found a cutting Taualii for a tough layup, and when Pusich made another 3-pointer with 55 seconds left, the Thunderbirds went to Taualii for another layup.

“I was just trusting my teammates. I knew that they would see me and I had my hand up,” Taualii said.

Potter made two free throws on one end while Filoialii missed two on the other end to set up the fateful play.

“I thought we played pretty hard and we certainly didn’t quit,” coach Potter said. “We just have to be smarter and not give up easy opportunities. You play a good team and you give them easy buckets, you can’t expect to win.”

JDHS closed the first half on a 6-0 run but still trailed 19-18. The Crimson Bears took a brief lead in the third quarter before falling behind 36-30 to start the fourth.

2018 Princess Cruises Capital City Classic Awards

Most Valuable Player — Skye Miller (East)

All Tournament Team — Jordan Ahgeak (Barrow); Katelyn Kaleak (Barrow); Jayla Jordan (East); Fua Filoialii (East); Alxyn Bohulano (Juneau-Douglas); Caitlin Pusich (Juneau-Douglas)

3-point champion — Skye Miller (East)

Free throw champion — Jordan Ahgeak (Barrow)


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


Juneau-Douglas’ Sadie Tuckwood is fouled on the way to the basket by East’s Amari Brown at the Princess Cruises Capital City Classic at Juneau-Douglas High School on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. East won 57-55. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas’ Sadie Tuckwood is fouled on the way to the basket by East’s Amari Brown at the Princess Cruises Capital City Classic at Juneau-Douglas High School on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. East won 57-55. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Sports

James Connally (10), a senior, and Payton Grant, a junior, embrace following a touchdown. Connally caught and threw for a touchdown in the Huskies’ 30-17 loss to Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School. (Courtesy Photo / Larry Schrader)
Juneau’s title chase comes to an end against East Anchorage

The Juneau Huskies finished their 2021 season as runner-ups for the state’s Division I title.

Payton Grant, a junior wide receiver, makes a move following a reception against Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School. The Huskies won their last game against East 39-28 on Saturday, Sept. 4 at home. The two teams will play again for a state championship at Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Empire Live: Huskies play hard, fall short of title

Thunderbirds win the state championship 30-17.

Juneau Huskies quarterback Noah Chambers, a senior, celebrates after moving through a tunnel of fans and cheerleaders following Juneau’s second-round playoff win. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Huskies are heading to state

Huskies dominate in home win.

Thunder Mountain High School’s Kiah Dihle came in third for the state of Alaska in the Alaska School Activities Association’s 2021 state championships, hosted in Anchorage, on Oct. 9, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Kent Mearig)
Juneau cross country teams cross muddy finish line on season

Thunder Mountain’s Kiah Dihle placed third overall for Alaska.

Sam Sika, a junior who plays full back and defensive line for the Huskies, celebrates after scoring a touchdown against South Anchorage High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Jarrell Williams, a junior defensive back, prepares to tackle Roman Smith. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Huskies win at home behind big second half

Bartlett comes to town next week.

James Connally, a senior, makes his way toward the end zone to open the scoring for the Juneau Huskies. Connally also caught a pair of touchdowns in a 42-7 win against South Anchorage High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
7 points: The Huskies are conference champs

Takeways from the Week 7 win and a look ahead to the playoffs.

Lucas White (21) and two other Huskies take down a player from Dimond High School on Saturday, Aug. 21. Juneau coach Rich Sjoroos said solid tackling by White and others played a major role in the Huskie's 27-14 win against Bartlett High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
7 points: Huskies make it 3 in a row

Next game is senior night.

Payton Grant, left, plays football against East Anchorage High School on Sept. 4, 2021. Grant scored in last week’s away game against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
7 points: Juneau football brings the heat to Service in away game

It’s Juneau’s first road win for the season.

Juneau's Wallace Adams, a senior, trudges forward while draped in East Anchorage defenders. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
7 points: Huskies outlast East Anchorage

Takeaways from Saturday’s game and a look ahead.

The Juneau Huskies practice on Aug. 10. The high school football team's record stands at 2-1 following a loss to West Anchorage over the weekend. On Saturday, Juneau will host East Anchorage. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
7 points: Despite good first half, West Anchorage takes Huskies down

Juneau turns in a solid performance on an away game.