Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé varsity boys basketball players Orion Dybdahl, left and Jake Sleppy, right contest a jump ball from Coach Robert Caspersons during a practice on Dec. 14, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé varsity boys basketball players Orion Dybdahl, left and Jake Sleppy, right contest a jump ball from Coach Robert Caspersons during a practice on Dec. 14, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

JDHS boys basketball gets ready to hit the road

Their first games this year will be away —way, way away.

A near season brings a new team as the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boys varsity gets ready to play their first tournament this year in Las Vegas.

Many departing seniors from last year’s class fundamentally alter the structure of the team, said coach Rob Casperson, leaving the future wide open for how this year’s team will operate.

“That’s the nature of high school basketball,” Casperson said in an interview. “You graduate kids and new kids have the opportunity to step up.”

[TMHS readies for season tipoff]

The team’s 13 players are headed to the Tarkanian Classic on Thursday morning, competing against about 80 other schools, Casperson said. The early games away from home will unify the team for the season to come, Casperson said.

“It’s a great situation for us to go on the road and do some bonding early in the season,” Casperson said. “The time together, the time on task is unparalleled. We’re going to play teams that are 10-12 games into their season.”

Casperson said the early tournament will give the team a chance to test its mettle. The team has been practicing foundational activities, building on institutional experience from the lower divisions.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé varsity boys basketball players practice on Dec. 14, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé varsity boys basketball players practice on Dec. 14, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

“What I want to see is us start to come together as a group,” Casperson said. “I want to see how we approach challenges.”

That molding together will help them to compete against teams in Southeast Alaska with many returning players like Thunder Mountain and Ketchikan, Casperson said.

“I see those teams in front of us. We have to be ready to play them,” Casperson said. “If we have the right mindset we’re fine.”

There’s going to be ample opportunity for every player in this phase of the season as they balance their on-court chemistry, Casperson said.

“Everyone’s going to have a chance to play. Sophomores are going to have a lot of on-court time,” Casperson said. “It’s the start of another season and we’re excited. It’s an electrifying time of year.”

JDHS’ alumni game is scheduled for Dec. 23, and the Capital City Classic Tournament will kick off on Dec. 27.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.