Jenae Pusich pushes the ball down the court for Juneau-Douglas High School Kalé ​in a crosstown clash with Thunder Mountain High School on March 5, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Jenae Pusich pushes the ball down the court for Juneau-Douglas High School Kalé ​in a crosstown clash with Thunder Mountain High School on March 5, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

JDHS and TMHS girls square off in first round of Region V tournament

The winner will go on to face Ketchikan for the title.

The high school girls basketball teams of Juneau will vie Tuesday night for the right to advance in the regional tournament as this season draws to its crescendo.

Juneau-Douglas High Kalé, coached by Steve Potter, and Thunder Mountain High School, coached by Andy Lee, will play at 6 p.m. at JDHS.

“I expect the game to be close,” said Potter in a phone interview. “They beat us on Friday last time we played them. And then we beat them on Saturday. It could be anyone’s game.”

The winner between No. 2 seed JDHS and No. 3 seed TMHS will go on to compete against No. 1 seed Ketchikan this weekend, in Ketchikan.

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“I’m excited. We’ve had some tough losses,” Lee said. “When you consider our conference losses average 3 points a game, we’ve been in every game. We’re in a position to win every game.”

Speed and tempo will dominate the game, both coaches said, as players strike fast. Both TMHS and JDHS are quick-moving teams, while Ketchikan plays a more deliberate game, Potter said.

“Whatever pace or tempo the game is played at, we’re prepared,” Lee said. “The top three teams in our conference are better than the top three teams in any other conference. Our top three teams can go toe-to-toe with anyone else.”

In a fraught and fluid season, Potter said, the regional tournament has been a touchstone, a crescendo that each game is building towards. Resilience has been a watchword for the high school athletes, Lee said.

“When we couldn’t practice indoors, we practiced outdoors. When they said wear a mask, we wore a mask,” Lee said. “We’ve found a way to meet every challenge.”

Going in, Potter said, the JDHS players are rested and well practiced, but it could be anyone’s match.

“It really could be anybody at this point,” Potter said. “Whoever has the ball last wins.”

Lee echoed those sentiments, reflecting that Tuesday could be TMHS’s day.

“I feel like any of the three teams could win,” Lee said. “Why not us?”

Boys basketball

The TMHS boys’ season came to an end in Ketchikan over the weekend with losses on Wednesday, Thursday and in a game Saturday that functioned as the Region V tournament play-in game. Next, the JDHS boys will play Kayhi Saturday in Ketchikan. The Empire will be previewing that game on Friday.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or

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