The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boys basketball team had quite the run this season. That includes a 19-12 record, being crowned Region V 4A champs and going on to the compete at state, making it another successful year that the Crimson Bears can put down in the books.
But all good things must come to an end, and after a 82-58 loss to Dimond High School on Saturday, the basketball season has finally come for the JDHS boys.
JDHS coach Robert Casperson said it was yet another situation in which the Bears battled their way through the entire game, start to finish, regardless of the score.
“You can never tell if we’re up or down based on how we’re playing, we’re just always battling to compete,” Casperson said during a Saturday interview. “Dimond shoots the ball really well, they have some guards that really put the lights out for us. It was a rough first quarter, dug ourselves into a little bit of a hole, but that’s nothing that worries us. We were able to battle back in the second half, we actually won the third quarter and really chipped away at it. We got the score down to either nine or seven at some point, but then Dimond hit two 3-pointers and pushed the lead back out. But as always, I was proud of the guys by the way they played today.”
Juneau enteres the ASAA March Madness State Basetball Championships as the eight seed and Dimond as the two seed, and to finish their respective seasons, they both battled for fourth place.
The first quarter started with JDHS junior Alwen Carrillo going to the line after getting fouled and made one of two free throw shots. Dimond was quick to answer back with a jumper from Dimond’s Maguire Hamey along with a 3-pointer to put the score at 5-2, Dimond. JDHS senior Orion Dybdahl made some nice contributions coupled with a 3-point shot from junior Sean Oliver, which tied the game at 10 with less than four minutes left in the first, however, a 3-point shot from Dimond’s Kaleb Fautanu gave the Lynx the lead back at 13-10. Thanks to an off-the-backboard dunk by Dimond’s Xavier Baker along with some fouls called against Juneau, Dimond would build its lead to finish the quarter, 24-12.
Dimond’s Baker fouled Dybdahl just 19 seconds into the second quarter, which Dybdahl capitalized one by sinking one of two free throw shots. Dybdahl would follow that up with a score on the inside, but not before Dimond’s Merek Hajdukovich could sink a 3-pointer, bringing the score to 27-15. Carrillo and Oliver managed to put some points on the board, but between continual 3-pointers from Dimond’s Hajdkovich and additional fouls called against JDHS, the Lynx managed to further extend the lead to 43-27 by the half.
At the beginning of the third quarter, there appeared to be hope for Juneau as Dimond seemed to lose steam. Oliver sank the first basket of the quarter, which was followed up by seniors Kai Hargrave and Joseph Aline putting their two cents in, the Bears brought the score up to 46-33 with five minutes left in the quarter, still Dimond’s lead. After Dybdahl sank both free throws at the line and Hargrave put up another 2-point shot, JDHS was looking at a single-digit game. More scoring from both Dybdahl, Oliver and Carrillo helped Juneau climb the ladder, but Dimond started to come back alive with aggressive scoring from Hamey, Hajdukovich along with a thunderous dunk from Baker extended Dimond’s lead to 60-46 by the end of the quarter.
Casperson said while the game didn’t go quite the way the team had hoped, it was never from a lack of effort. Casperson praised the players on the team, noting that everyone had a strong finish to their season that they can all be proud of.
“Orion Dybdahl did a great job inside against their size and with scoring, he caught the attention of a college coach that was up here watching the game, so there’s a possible opportunity for him now,” Casperson said. “Dimond has some real size, a couple of big guys that have been trouble for teams all over the state, so it was really cool that Orion didn’t back down from the challenge at all, he wanted the ball inside, he attacked their big guys and did a good job on scoring baskets and getting to the free throw line. (Sean) Oliver played really well again, shooting the ball, he’s extremely competitive. Alwen (Carrillo) was keeping people on their heels all day with attacking the rim, he did another great job in the point guard spot and Joseph Aline finished his senior season with another solid performance.”
The fourth quarter would only bring more problems for the Bears as the fouls added up and key players such as Carrillo and Dybdahl had to leave the game. Oliver would do his best to keep the game competitive with a series of 3-point shots, with additional help from Jhowel Esitigoy and Hargrave with a full speed layup, but in the end it proved to just not be quite enough to seal the deal and the Bears go home with sixth place for this year’s state competition, Dimond takes fourth.
Oliver led the Bears with 19 points and Dybdahl with 14. Dybdahl was also a strong presence on defense finishing with a game-leading seven rebounds and two steals on his way to earning player of the game honors for JDHS, and Hamey took the honor for Dimond.
Casperson said he wanted to thank the community of Juneau for supporting the team throughout the season and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to coach this year’s team.
“This group of guys, they absolutely displayed exactly what we would hope for out of our program and what they community can be proud of with regards to just playing hard and representing their families and the school in a positive way,” Casperson said. “They’ve done a great job and we’ve received a lot of compliments throughout the season, they’ve been a lot of fun to coach this year.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com.