The 1997-1998 Klawock boys basketball team. The author is in the back, the third player from the right. (Courtesy Photo)

The 1997-1998 Klawock boys basketball team. The author is in the back, the third player from the right. (Courtesy Photo)

I Went to the Woods: Region V memories

I Went to the Woods goes to the hardwood.

  • By Jeff Lund For the Juneau Empire
  • Wednesday, January 5, 2022 3:48pm
  • Sports

By Jeff Lund

For the Juneau Empire

At some point during the layover, I thought it was a good idea to leave the airport, walk to the parking lot and do a “snow dance” to bring about a reason for us to stay in Juneau one more night rather than be exiled to Gustavus for the last two games of our basketball trip.

When you’re a senior in high school and you’ve already played two games in Yakutat, two games in one day in Skagway to make up for the late arrival, you’re past your last pair of…socks, that sort of thing seems like the right thing to do.

Of course it didn’t work, and my buddies and I made our way into a small squadron of planes en route to Gustavus, where we were stuck for four days. Maybe it wasn’t that the snow dance didn’t work, there was just a delay.

Anyway, I have only been to Gustavus once, in January of 1999, so rather than memories of glaciers, wildlife and astonishing beauty, I just remember the drifts of snow tall enough to hide a moose, being so bored I set up an email account (my first one) in the library and the gym.

I’d love to go back when things are in bloom.In fact, I’d like another shot at many places in Southeast Alaska and see more than just the school of a 1a or 2a team.

My only lasting memory of Angoon is being up 1 at halftime against an undefeated Eagles team my junior year. We were throttled in the second half.

I remember coach saying, “We need Jeff and Lars to step up” before a game in Hoonah and we responded with four points between us. By the way, that Hoonah team went on an absolute tear that year at the Region V tournament beating Hydaburg in overtime and following that upset win with another over Angoon. (Maybe it was Angoon first then Hydaburg?)

That was the Region V tournament we were housed in a room in the Juneau-Douglas gym that I think is now used for basketballs or as a closet.

I watched a kid score 50 at a tournament in Skagway, another peel off his uniform during a timeout and stomp off the court. I think that was also the trip where a freshman asked if frozen dog poop would shatter if he threw it against the sidewalk since it was -30 degrees.

The funny thing now is that those are all copies of copies of memories, so know who knows if I have it right, though it’s at least accurate enough that someone might read this and say, “Oh yeah, I remember that.”

I can’t help but remember some of those things now that basketball season is underway for this generation of high schoolers. I tell my students how cheated they are by getting to fly around in Alaska Airlines jets accumulating miles that will eventually be redeemed for a ticket to somewhere warm. Did you really have an authentic Southeast Alaska basketball experience if you didn’t play poker or memory with the sugar packets on the Taku, arrive at 4:37 in the morning, have coach drive you up to the school in a musky van to a math room where you finally fell asleep in time to have the bell ring for your opponents’ first period?

Were you ever really a team captain if you didn’t use that status to choose the best spot for your air mattress?

High school basketball was not the high point in my life, but there is nothing wrong with looking back and fondly remembering the way things were. Why the team did how it did, of course, but also the experiences with teammates. Talking together. Being bored together.

It seems like the worse it all was, the better it is. There might be some lesson in there about resilience or perspective, but I’m too focused on whether or not I got any money out of the “snow dance” or if I was just really bored.

The author practices his shot in snowy conditions. (Courtesy Photo)

The author practices his shot in snowy conditions. (Courtesy Photo)

More in Sports

This combination photo shows all five division-winning teams from the recent 3v3 Pre-Season Tournament at Thunder Mountain High School. (Upper left) Team 7, (upper right) Hoopsters, (lower left) 3 Amigos; (lower center) Lucky Ladies and (lower right) 3 of a Kind. (Courtesy Photos)
3v3 Tournament crowns division winners

Thunder Mountain High School boys basketball and Hooprats recently hosted the 13th… Continue reading

Bree Lee Lo, June Enele, Lemoe Eneliko and Moira Anemia pose for a photo taken by Alexandra and Barron Anemia. All were on hand to celebrate Samoa's Rugby League World Cup run. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Local rugby fans celebrate Samoa’s World Cup run

“Win our lose, we’re still proud.”

Matthew Wendel, Mike Kreis, Kasey Watts, Courtney Kreis, Tami Wahto and Todd Schur wore costumes during the 2021 Turkey Trot. Why’d they wear costumes? “Why not?” asked Schur. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strut your speed at upcoming annual Turkey Trot

Stuff the starting line Thanksgiving morning

Glacier Swim Club finds success in Petersburg

Twenty Juneau students competed in the November swim meet hosted in Petersburg over the weekend.

The 2022-23 Thunder Mountain girls varsity volleyball team poses for a group photo during 2022 3A/4A Volleyball State Championships in Anchorage on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 10 and 11. (Courtesy Photo / Julie Herman)
TMHS volleyball wraps up stellar season

Falcons fall short of finals at State tournament

TMHS stands for team photo after state tournament at Bartlett High School in Anchorage on Saturday, Nov. 5. (Courtesy Photo / Josiah Loseby)
Juneau swim teams make a splash at state championship

“We all performed well and we all had a good time.”

Juneau Skating Club Forget-Me-Not team featured in last year’s spring event. The team is traveling to Irvine, California to compete in the Glacier Falls Classic on Saturday, Nov. 12. (Courtesy Photo / Kim Hort)
Forget-Me-Not skaters return to California

Juneau Skating Club team competes in Glacier Fall Classic.

Thunder Mountain girls varsity volleyball team celebrating their championship victory against JDHS on Saturday, Nov. 5. TMHS now heads to the state tournament in Anchorage to face Colony in the first round on Thursday, Nov. 10. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
TMHS volleyball team advances to state tournament

Falcons will take on Colony in Anchorage Nov. 11

Large crowds turned out to support high school swimmers through Alaska at the Region V meet on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28, 29 at in Juneau at Dimond Park Aquatic Center. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Prep swim teams score big at Region V meet

TMHS and JDHS swim teams score big at Region V meet

JDHS junior Mila Hargrave winds up to spike the ball while TMHS junior Ashlyn Gates attempts to deflect it. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Volleyball wraps up regular season

Region tournament set for Nov. 4 and Nov. 5

A volleyball makes its way through the air. TMHS and JDHS are set for a pair of cross-town contests on Friday and Saturday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Volleyball senior nights set for cross-town matches

Will there be a bump in attendance or a spike?