Thunder Mountain high school basketball coach John Blasco lofts a pass to his players during a drill at practice Wednesday, Feb. 8 at TMHS. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain high school basketball coach John Blasco lofts a pass to his players during a drill at practice Wednesday, Feb. 8 at TMHS. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Full slate of boys basketball this weekend

The Thunder Moutain Falcons (11-5, 2-0) and Kayhi Kings (12-2, 2-0) boys basketball teams have a lot in common.

They are both on six game winning streaks and swept defending state-champion Juneau-Douglas in the first conference series of their respective seasons. They also feature explosive guards who attack the rim with a force that belies their size in Kayhi’s Marcus Lee and TMHS’ Chase Saviers.

However, Juneau basketball fans will have the final word on just how equal Kings and Falcons are this weekend.

The two square off Friday and Saturday night at TMHS’ Thunderdome. The games tip-off at 7:15 p.m.

In the last three weekly Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches (AABC) poll, the Kings have claimed the No. 5 spot. East Anchorage, Dimond, Wasilla, and Bartlett currently occupy No. 1 – 4.

If Ketchikan is to remain ranked, Lee (younger brother Chris also plays for the Kings) will be one of the chief reasons. The smooth dribbler facilitaes a Ketchikan offense that averages 62 points per game. When not finding wing Jake Smith for 3-point looks, Lee also creates his own scoring opportunites. Three weeks ago in the O’Brady Invitational basketball tournament in Anchorage, he scored 29 in a 71-66 quarter-final win over South Anchorage. The Kings went on to win the tournament over West Anchorage.

“For the first half of the season he was averaging 20-plus a game, I’m assuming he’s still up there,” TMHS coach John Blasco said after practice Wedneday night of Lee.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Kings use a full-court press to fluster opponents. For the Falcons to contend with the Kings, they’ll rely on Saviers and Zeb Storie to maintain composure under.

“If you look at a lot of their games, they are capitalizing on you in the fourth quarter because you get tired. The mental mistakes happen because they press you for the first 24 minutes and just get tired,” Blasco said.

In their lone meeting this season, Kayhi defeated Thunder Mountain 74-63.

Falcons guard Noah Reishus-O’Brien is confident his team can change the outcome this weekend.

“I think it’ll be good games. If we keep practicing on beating their press, we’ll come out looking good this weekend,” he said.

JDHS faces Lathrop

Like Thunder Moutain, the Juneau-Douglas boys basketball team (8-8, 0-4) seeks to defend their homecourt this weekend. Also like the Falcons, they play the remaining four weeks of the regular season in Southeast Alaska. Unlike the Falcons though, JDHS has lost seven of its last eight. JDHS started the season 7-1.

The Crimson Bears will try to reverse this trend when the Lathrop Malumutes (5-9) make the trip down from Fairbanks for a pair of games Friday and Satuday. Both games tip-off at 7 p.m. in the JDHS gynasium.

The Fairbanks squad will look to avenge a close 61-59 home loss to Juneau-Douglas last month, one of six such losses for the Malumutes in the month of January.

The Crimson Bears meanwhile is looking to shore up its defense. The last two Saturday’s JDHS allowed 78 and 71 points to Ketchikan and TMHS respectively.

“We are looking to find some consistency to finish out the year these last six regular season games. I am encouraged. I do believe we have some room to grow and we’re going to make some strides,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said following last Saturday’s loss.


Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nolin.ainsworth@juneauempire.com


Thunder Mountain high school’s Noah Reishus-O’Brien drives past teammate Kaiden Ward as Riley Olsen looks on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at TMHS. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain high school’s Noah Reishus-O’Brien drives past teammate Kaiden Ward as Riley Olsen looks on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at TMHS. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)