The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boys basketball team finished 2-1 at this year’s Al Howard Shootout Tournament in Soldotna. With the three-game tournament now behind them, Crimson Bears boys have a 9-7 record for the season.
JDHS started off strong with a win in its first game against Soldotna High School on Thursday, which saw the Crimson Bears maintain the lead for every quarter but the first, ending with a final score of 57-40. Junior Sean Oliver led in scoring with 19 points with senior Orion Dybdahl not far behind with 16. Senior Kai Hargrave had a solid performance with 15 points while senior Chris Harris, junior Jhowel Estigoy and senior Joseph Aline each put up 2 points, and junior Alex Mallott had 1 point in the third quarter from a free throw.
Friday’s game against Anchorage Christian School proved to be more challenging for JDHS. The Crimson Bears jumped out to an early lead with a 20-11 score at the end of the first quarter. However, ACS clawed back the lead via a 26-point second quarter and would eventually win the game 70-65. JDHS kept the game close throughout and stayed within four points most of the way until the final quarter.
Oliver again led in scoring with 22 points and Dybdahl with 15 of his own. Aline put up 11 points, Hargrave had 9 while Estigoy and senior Caden Mesdag each had 3, and Mallott put up 2 points in the first quarter.
Casperson said that while the team started out strong against a dominant ACS, a lot of “uncharacteristic turnovers” led to the eventual loss.
“We battled the whole time, that’s for sure,” Casperson said. “That’s one of the things about this team, they don’t give up and I think that’s going to certainly bode well for us moving forward in our conference play. You’re going to have some off nights and I felt like we had an off night and part of that was ACS did a really great job with their defensive pressure, they were very physical and attacked the passing lanes, so they did a good job of disrupting us and that caused a lot of our issues, we had 24 turnovers in that game. In a game you lose by 5 points, 24 turnovers makes a big difference.”
The boys team faced off against Kenai Central High School for its final game of the tournament. During the first two quarters the Crimson Bears struggled, but by the second half JDHS had found its groove and never lost sight of it for a game ending score of 58-47. This time Oliver and Dybdahl shared the scoring lead with 20 points each while also each notched their first dunk of the season. Aline finished with 6 points while Hargrave and freshman Brandon Casperson had 4, and Harris and Estigoy each had 2 points from free throws in the first and third quarter.
Coach Casperson said with regards to the Kenai game, the biggest difference was the shift in focus and dedication to defense coming into the second half which sparked the offense to play more aggressively.
“We came out and had a big third quarter and jumped on them right away,” Casperson said. “The guy’s fed on that energy of getting some defensive stops and some turnovers, it was just great overall to see how the guys responded.”
Oliver and Dybdahl yet again received all-tournament honors at the end of the Al Howard Shootout tournament. Casperson said that playing the tournament without junior Alwen Carrillo, who sprained his ankle last week in the first quarter of the South Anchorage tournament, was definitely a setback for the team, but it allowed players to step up and familiarize themselves with new positions and responsibilities.
“Sean Oliver moved over to the 1, (point guard) when he’s typically our shooting guard, so it gave him a new perspective on what happens in that position and the responsibilities,” Casperson said. “He did a great job for us by taking over that role. That’s the reality of basketball, kids get hurt and other people have to step up. I feel like our guys did a really good job of doing just that and fulfilling different roles.”
According to Casperson, Carrillo will be back this week for the team’s next games against Thunder Mountain High School on Wednesday and Thursday. Additionally, Casperson said the Crimson Bears have partnered with Cancer Connection for Wednesday’s game as a way of helping the organization with fundraising. Casperson said there will be a booth set up at the gym’s entrance where donations can be made in person.
“We felt like it was just a great way to give back and help share the message of how Cancer Connection supports families and helps people in Juneau, but also Southeast in general as they’re battling cancer,” Casperson said. “We had a player that we lost to leukemia a few years back, Kevin Guimmayen, and Cancer Connection was really helpful with his family.”
TMHS began its conference play last week with a pair of games at Ketchikan High School. The Falcons won one and lost one. The home-away games for JDHS will be their first conference games of the season.
Both games are scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. with Wednesday’s at JDHS and Thursday’s at TMHS.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.