It was a good weekend for both Juneau high school boys basketball teams. They each defeated visiting teams in a series of hard-fought games.
Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé beat Ketchikan in a pair of conference games, and Thunder Mountain High School hosted and bested Wasilla.
Both teams won by a single point on Friday, with TMHS winning 37-36 and JDHS with 55-54. Games Saturday — senior night for each Juneau team — got away from the visiting teams, with JDHS winning 75-68 and TMHS thrashing Wasilla 56-36.
On Friday, JDHS led 12-8 at the end of the first quarter, 26-19 at the half, and at one point in the third quarter, the Crimson Bears were up by 14. However, Ketchikan standout Chris Lee poured in most of his game-leading 30 points in the final two frames, which led to a dramatic finish.
Brock McCormick, who paced JDHS with 19 points, put on a clutch performance, too. He had a pivotal three-point play in the fourth quarter, and he sank two free throws with only three seconds remaining to put the Crimson Bears up for good.
“Brock’s been one of our best free-throw shooters all season,” Casperson said. “He wasn’t worried. None of us were worried. What we talked about in our huddle was how we were going to play defense after he made it.”
Cooper Kriegmont added 12 points for JDHS, and Austin McCurley’s timely and smooth three-point shooting accounted for nine Crimson Bear points.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” Casperson said. “Part of the story for us this year is that we’ve had leads and lost them and just kind of accepted it. What I like in that situation is seeing that they’re starting to believe in each other, and they’re going to stick with it and keep working.”
TMHS overcame Wasilla’s physical performance, leading them through three quarters on Friday before holding the line and squeezing them out by one point.
“They’re a very physical team,” said Coach John Blasco after the game on Friday. “They’re a very tall team. I give credit to their defense.”
Wasilla’s hard push at the end would not be mirrored Saturday.
“Last night was an odd game collectively,” said Thunder Mountain High School coach John Blasco in a post-game interview. “Both teams were very flat and low energy. Tonight, I definitely thought our energy level was high. Senior night brings a lot of extra emotion, and I thought we played to the right emotion.” Disruptive defense and a scoring onslaught from senior guard Bryson Echiverri, who scored 29 and delivered dazzling passes, led the way for Thunder Mountain.
“It’s been something we’ve been trying to work on the whole year,” Echiverri said of the hard-pressing defensive effort in an interview. “We’re very athletic, we can do it, it’s just conditioning. Tonight, we played well. We were disciplined.”
Senior Brady Carandang also chipped in 11 points, including his 1,000th point for TMHS. The milestone bucket, which makes Carandang just the fourth Falcon to cross the 1,000-point mark, came early in the first quarter.
“It caught me off guard because it was a post move over one of their tallest defenders,” Blasco said. “I was like, ‘Oh, he just scored,’ and I realized I needed to call a timeout. I was late calling a timeout, they already had the ball. I appreciate the Wasilla coach letting it happen and letting us recognize the kid. That was a really honorable, respectful thing he did.”
JDHS girls traveled to Ketchikan, winning Friday 41-38 and losing Saturday 44-37, according to sports scoring website ASAA365.
TMHS girls didn’t have a game; their scheduled Kodiak canceled with three starters out with injuries.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.