JDHS’ Jake Sleppy, right, vies for the ball in a tipoff against TMHS during the regular basketball season. JDHS just ended their season with an unsuccessful championship attempt. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

JDHS’ Jake Sleppy, right, vies for the ball in a tipoff against TMHS during the regular basketball season. JDHS just ended their season with an unsuccessful championship attempt. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

JDHS boys end season at state tournament

The long season gave players lots of time to refine their game.

The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears ended their season in Anchorage over the weekend after a nearly 30-game season.

Defeated in the quarterfinals by Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School, the team had a long season, with a promising one next year, said Coach Rob Casperson.

“We ran into two teams who entered the tournament with undefeated records,” Casperson said. “We were running up against some stiff competition. We’re happy that we got to go.”

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The team was defeated 59-46 by East, before being beaten 60-37 by West Valley High School in the consolation match.

“We came back and we made a run at them. You could see the bright lights and the big stage had an impact on our guys at the beginning,” Casperson said. “There was some nerves and we missed some easy shots at the beginning. Once we settled in, we battled. We scored more points than them in the second half.”

West Valley would go on to win both of its consolation matches. It was good to get to the state tournament, Casperson, even if they didn’t get as far as they’d hoped.

“When we ran into West Valley for the second game, we didn’t defend that three point line and we didn’t shoot very well,” Casperson said. “That was kind of a problem all season.”

For all that, it was good to get up to Anchorage and take a swing, Casperson said.

“That’ll be a plaque on the wall for this group of kids. The seniors will always be able to cherish that memory,” Casperson said. “For the kids coming back, we’ll have to improve in the off season, and try to be a little more successful next time we go.”

Casperson said it was a long and hard-fought season against competent teams in and out of Alaska, beginning with the mid-December kickoff in a tournament in Las Vegas.

“We had a lot of really quality ball teams that we played. We got ready to play our best basketball at the end of the year,” Casperson said. “I’m proud of these kids.”

The length of the season is definitely a factor, Casperson said. For many sophomores this year, who may have only played the 17-game season last year, the length of the season was a factor, Casperson said.

“It was a very long season. We hit the wall,” Casperson said. “You see it in a lot of freshmen. You go from an eight-week season to a 12-week season or a 16-week season.”

That same long season was good for the team, Casperson said, as players received time to refine their skills.

“The season provided ample opportunities for improvement. Orion Dybdahl improved a ton as the season went on,” Casperson said. “Time on task — they were able to have time on task and build on successful repetitions from the practice.”

The team is graduating five seniors but eight more players have the opportunity to play again next year and beyond. Four out of the five leading scorers are returning, Casperson said — juniors Orion Dybdahl and Kai Hargrave and sophomores Alwen Carrillo and Sean Oliver.

“The guys who saw a lot of time and gained a lot of experience are coming back,” Casperson said. “It was beneficial to have a long season this year with a lot of games. That’s what our kids need, the experience of a lot of gameplay.”

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

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