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)

More in Sports

Juneau's high school football team finished the regular season 8-0 (7-0 in conference) after hanging on to win a 19-14 nail-biter against Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Huskies finish regular season undefeated

Huskies hang on — but not without last-minute drama.

Wendy Vuille poses with skater Brendyn Hatfield at the Arizona Adult Skating Camp. (Courtesy Photo / Wendy Vuille)
Better skate than never: Over a decade of hard work nets Juneau woman rare honor

Over a decade of hard work nets Juneau woman rare honor

A total of 145 boys from 10 Southeast Alaska high schools dash out from the starting line at the Capital City Invite at A Káx Yaa Andagan Yé (Sandy Beach) on Saturday morning. The 5K race for boys’ and girls’ teams was the region’s largest cross-country race of the season, and final regular season competition before the regional championship in Sitka this weekend. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Many merry after massive muddy meet

Juneau’s cross-country runners and coaches in sunny spirits about chances going into championships

TMHS’ Ashlyn Gates and JDHS’ Mila Hargrave both reach for the ball during the second set of a cross-town volleyball match held at JDHS on Friday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
TMHS wins two cross-town matches

TMHS wins two cross-town matches

A Lucas White (21) block buys Jarrell Williams (1) more room to work during a 49-32 win against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau cooks up a conference title

Huskies are back-to-back Cook Inlet Conference champs after lopsided win.

Senior Moana Tuviafale of Thunder Mountain High School (far right) was named to the all-tournament team at this year’s Spiktacular tournament this weekend at West Anchorage High School. From left to right, other players in photo are Hayden Inman of Chugiak High School, Liyah Pilgrim of Colony High School and Marija Wunnicke of South High School. (Courtesy Photo / Julie Herman)
TMHS takes 3rd at Spiketacular tournament

The Falcons are ranked 3rd in the state

Jarrell Williams, who scored five TDs against South Anchorage to help Juneau maintain an undefeated record, looks over the line of scrimmage in an Aug. 27 game against West Anchorage High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
5 TD’s power Juneau’s 6th win

Juneau football still undefeated on the season.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
From left to right, Liz Perry, president and CEO of Travel Juneau; SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium project manager Sierra Gadaire; High Cadence Triathlon team coach Jamie Bursell; and City and Borough of Juneau Finance Director Jeff Rogers met at Juneau Moose Family Center on Thursday afternoon to share a recap of the Ironman Alaska to a full crowd of members of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce who joined in at the luncheon.
2023 vision: Officials look at the future of Ironman Alaska

They reviewed what went well and what could change for next time.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
Two-time national champion and Olympic bronze medalist Gracie Gold talks with the Juneau Empire ahead of her upcoming free speech at Juneau-Douglas High School on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.
Olympian takes time to talk mental health

Bronze medalist, 2-time champ to speak Saturday.

Jarrell Williams (1) and Thomas Baxter (84) celebrate a big play on defense early in Juneau's win over the visiting West Valley Rams. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Huskies get the Rams’ goat under Friday night lights

Juneau remains undefeated on the season.

FILE - Lance Mackey sits with his lead dogs Larry, right, and Maple after crossing the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on March 18, 2009, in Nome, Alaska, to win his third Iditarod in a row. Mackey, a four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race winner and one of mushing’s most colorful and accomplished champions who also suffered from health and drug issues, died Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, his father and kennel announced on Facebook. He was 52. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
Cancer claims 4-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey

Officials with the world’s most famous sled dog race said Iditarod Nation was in mourning.