The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team played up to their reputation in every respect Saturday, closing their regular season with a fourth win over Thunder Mountain High School.
The Crimson Bears came out looking for a more decisive win than Friday’s victory, and showcased their speed, rebounding and hustle in a 74-52 win that has carried them to the top of the Region V 4A standings. From the start of the game, JDHS displayed a balanced attack and tenacious defense, forcing turnovers from a Thunder Mountain squad known for their guard play.
Graduating seniors Kaleb Tompkins, Treyson Ramos and Guy Bean all had good nights, leading their team in points with 23, 13 and 10 respectively.
Thunder Mountain was led by junior Chase Saviers with 18, and senior Shane Mielke with 14.
Thunder Mountain started the game in good form, and kept the game at a seven-point deficit going into halftime. Down the stretch the Crimson Bears earned too many and-one plays for Thunder Mountain to overcome, putting the game out of reach after a third quarter push. Going into the fourth the Falcons were down 20 points and in the double bonus.
TMHS coach John Blasco’s team played hard through the buzzer, but couldn’t find the offensive life they needed in the fourth.
“We fouled more than any team in the state, they attacked the basket and we put them on the line. … They had three or four and-ones in the third. We gotta stop putting guys on the line,” Blasco said.
Both teams face off again in the Region V tournament at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday in Sitka.
Senior night sentiments
The Crimson Bears boys graduate five seniors this year: Hunter Hickok, Kaleb Tompkins, Molo Maka, Treyson Ramos and Guy Bean. The boys have been playing together since their youth days with Hoop Rats, and share as much chemistry off the court as they do on the court. The Empire caught up with all five players to talk about what it felt like to play their last home game.
“It felt weird. Honestly, it was kind of sad,” Bean said. “Every time I did something, like in pregame warmups, I was thinking, ‘This is the last time I’ll be doing this on our home court.’”
Said Ramos: “When all our parents came out it was kind of happy and sad, bittersweet. Knowing everybody was there, it was a fun game.”
Said Maka: “I was happy being here with everyone, with the coaches and the teammates I have.”
Said Hickock: “It’s not over yet. This is my only year. The coaches have had a huge impact and we’ve had a lot of fun.”
Tompkins has been in the program for four years, and stressed that he feels like his teammates are family.
The boys wanted to thank: Dr. Doug, coach Casperson, coach Sleppy, coach Kriegmont, Caitlynn Rich, David Timothy, all of their parents, the coaches that retired last year, the pep band, dance team, cheerleaders and many others.
Tomkins, Bean and Ramos wanted to leave their younger teammates with a piece of advice: “Cherish every moment, stay close as a team and make your teammates family.”
Friday’s game: JDHS 68, TMHS 53
The Thunder Mountain boys basketball team had Juneau-Douglas High School right where they wanted them on Friday.
Up by a mere five points going into the fourth, the Crimson Bears pushed their lead to 15 in the final period and held on to a 68-53 win over the Falcons at home.
TMHS played one of their best games this season, with several different lineups keeping JDHS a bit disorganized on offense. The turbulent play helped the Falcons stay within striking distance of the state’s No. 1 ranked prep basketball team. The Falcon’s all-team effort wouldn’t be enough, however, to overcome JDHS’ excellent play in the paint.
“They tried to disrupt what we were looking to do, especially in the first few quarters,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “We know we have size and we want to try and attack the rim, get the ball inside for post opportunities, and they did a good job early in the game taking that stuff away. We became a little more patient as the game went on and that created some opportunities for us.”
The Crimson Bears bigs once again led the show, a development which has helped JDHS become a dangerously well-rounded team. Six-foot-seven junior Bryce Swofford tied senior teammate Kaleb Tompkins for a team-leading 22 points.
Swofford credited his teammates for helping him become a focal point on offense.
“We’ve been running our offense a little bit better, and it’s been helping me to get better looks,” he said. “We played our game … it made it a lot easier for us to play against them.”
Thunder Mountain brought a huge student section to the game on Friday, at times drowning out any communication on the court. Swofford added that it’s not easy playing in such an environment, but it’s good training for conference and state tournaments.
“It’s hard to hear people talking, calling out plays,” he said, adding that before post-season play his team needs to work on “getting used to that loud atmosphere.”
Behind Swofford and Tompkins, JDHS was led by senior Hunter Hickok and sophomore Kolby Hoover with six points each.
Thunder Mountain junior Noah Reishus-O’Brien had a massive game offensively, scoring a game-leading 24 points. He was followed by senior teammate Finn Collins with eight, junior Chase Saviers with six, and senior Moa Maka with six.
Though the buckets were hard to come by for the Falcons, Reishus-O’Brien played his best game this season.
“I stopped thinking about shooting, and just more getting to the rim and finishing shots,” he said.
Reishus-O’Brien made a point to credit the efforts of TMHS’ extended cast.
“A lot of our players stepped up,” he said. “We had Finn (Collins) boxing out and getting rebounds, Moa (Maka) stepped up, Chase (Saviers) hit some good shots. We had some good rotations and ball movement.”
The game started out with underdog Falcons bringing the intensity to the Crimson Bears, earning a 15-13 lead to start the game. Juneau-Douglas overtook that lead early in the second on their way to a 31-22 halftime advantage.
The Falcons would bounce back in the third, pushing the game to five points off an 8-2 run to close the quarter. The Falcons got into the bonus early, however, allowing JDHS to get to the line 14 times in the second half, hitting 11 of those.
Visiting Ketchikan referee Steve Kimble took an inadvertent shot to the nose on the opening tip of the game, prompting a game-stoppage. Kimble stuck the game out, modeling a toughness fans of both teams admired.