Nadia Wilson, left, and Layla Tokuoka, right, of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé fight for possession of the ball with Skylar Morris of South Anchorage High School during Saturday’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Nadia Wilson, left, and Layla Tokuoka, right, of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé fight for possession of the ball with Skylar Morris of South Anchorage High School during Saturday’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

JDHS boys, girls deliver matching pair of basketball wins for homecoming

Both Crimson Bears teams score on key plays in closing seconds of back-and-forth contests.

In a remarkable homecoming pairing the Crimson Bears’ varsity basketball teams turned in matching his-and-her wins at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Saturday night, sealing victories in close back-and-forth games with critical plays in the closing moments.

For the girls, Layla Tokuoka, a 5’5” freshman forward, stole the ball from a South Anchorage High School player and scored on a layup to give JDHS a seven-point lead with 32 seconds remaining.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Sean Oliver (11) looks for room inside against Grace Christian School during Saturday night’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Sean Oliver (11) looks for room inside against Grace Christian School during Saturday night’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

For the boys, Jhowel Estigoy, a 6’3” senior forward, took a chance on a long inbound pass when he spotted an open Sean Oliver three-fourths of the way downcourt, with the 6’4” guard scoring easily on his own layup to put his team up by seven with less than a minute remaining against Grace Christian School.

The Crimson Bears girls (8-4 overall, 2-0 in the 4A Southeast Conference) prevailed by a final score of 49-42 during their homecoming game Saturday, after beating South Anchorage (6-5 overall, 1-1 in the 4A Cook Inlet Conference) on Friday 60-41. The JDHS boys (8-7 overall, 0-0 conference) defeated Grace Christian (8-4 overall, 0-0 conference) 40-33 on Saturday, avenging a 62-61 loss on Friday.

Both games saw the teams play in spurts, with the Crimson Bears taking leads of several points only to see their opponents close the gap.

Freshman hits key shots for JDHS girls

The JDHS girls took a 15-9 first-quarter lead over South Anchorage, but the teams were deadlocked at 23-23 at halftime. The Crimson Bears jumped out to a seven-point lead late in the third quarter, but South Anchorage crept back and narrowed the gap to four until Tokuoka hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make the score 40-34 with one quarter remaining.

Layla Tokuoka (14) tries to drive inside for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Saturday’s game against South Anchorage High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Layla Tokuoka (14) tries to drive inside for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Saturday’s game against South Anchorage High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

“We weren’t getting back on defense as quick as we should have,” Tokuoka said after the game about the portions of the game where South Anchorage was able to rally.”We weren’t talking. We just needed to be more of a team on defense.”

Teammates started covering the ball better with more separation and applying pressure on South Anchorage players “and it seemed to really kind of bother them toward the end,” she said, when asked about her steal that led to the decisive margin.

Some hitches on offense also played a role in Saturday’s game being closer than Friday’s, said JDHS girls’ head coach Tanya Nizich.

“They were defensively aggressive,” she said, referring to South Anchorage’s adjustments. “It was changing the way that we normally play. And those are things that we can fix. They’re smart enough, just adapting, and it took a long time, but we figured it out to calm down with the ball and just use less dribbles, see our open person. They were always double-teaming us up top, leaving a person open. We just needed to keep our heads up, and look for that open person and better passes.”

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Gwen Nizich (24) looks to pass against South Anchorage High School during Saturday’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Gwen Nizich (24) looks to pass against South Anchorage High School during Saturday’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Tokuoka led all scorers with 15 points, with Gwen Nizich, a 5’9” sophomore guard, scoring 12 points for JDHS. Skylar Morris led South Anchorage with 14 points, with Niveah Hartwell also scoring in double figures with 11 points.

JDHS boys avenge loss in low-scoring homecoming win

In a game where every point counted, Oliver — who dominated the evening with 26 of his team’s 40 points — scored two of the biggest after catching the long inbound pass from Estigoy. A miss could have given Grace Christian the ball down by five with enough time to score the two baskets necessary to tie or win.

“I just saw Sean running down the court so I just tossed it,” Estigoy said after the game. “Sean was wide open.”

The long lob is a designated play if it’s open, said Robert Casperson, head coach of the Crimson Bears boys’ team.

JDHS, following its narrow loss on Friday, continued to struggle early Saturday as the team trailed 10-13 after the first quarter and 19-21 at halftime. But in the third quarter the Crimson Bears held Grace Christian to four points to take a 28-25 lead before eventually extending the lead for the final 40-33 score.

Alwen Carrillo (3) shoots in traffic for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Saturday night’s game against Grace Christian School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Alwen Carrillo (3) shoots in traffic for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Saturday night’s game against Grace Christian School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Both teams struggled with missed shots and turnovers at times, contributing to the lower score compared to Friday. But Casperson said it’s also characteristic of the visiting team.

“That’s a classic Grace Christian game in the sense that they will be very patient and very disciplined on offense, and spend 30 to 40 seconds if they care to to run their offense,” he said. “Right at the moment you think you’re playing good defense, when you start to relax…they’ll score easily out of that. So I felt like we did a good job of staying engaged defensively through those long possessions. And then, also, teams missed so there were a lot of rebounds. It was a rebounders’ game.”

The comeback in the second half came after reacting to some of Grace Christian’s adjustments, Casperson said.

“In the second half when they went to a zone it took us too long to recognize that and I thought we settled for 3-pointers instead of being more patient and still trying to attack,” he said. “But in general I thought the guys did fine in the shot selection.”

Ashton Clarkson and Kellen Veducka each had 13 points to lead Grace Christian.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

Rayna Tuckwood (4) shoots for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Saturday’s game against South Anchorage High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Rayna Tuckwood (4) shoots for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Saturday’s game against South Anchorage High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

More in Sports

Sapsucker wells on willows attract hummingbirds as well as insects. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Willows and the ecosystem

I recently found willow catkins just emerging from their bud covers, getting… Continue reading

Thunder Mountain High School’s Thomas Baxter and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Alwen Carrillo embrace at their end of Saturday’s game at JDHS that may have been the final local game between the two schools due to a consolidation of them tentatively approved by the school board starting next year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
In Juneau’s potentially final crosstown basketball showdown, both schools win

TMHS girls and JDHS boys prevail on night filled with dual-school spirit as consolidation looms.

Thunder Mountain High School seniors for the boys’ basketball team, their families and other supporters fill the Thunderdome for a Senior Night recognition before Friday’s game against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. It was possibly the final home game for the Falcons team due to a pending decision to put all high school students at JDHS starting with the next school year. The Falcons girls’ team will play their final home games of the season — and possibly ever — next Friday and Saturday against North Pole High School. (Screenshot from NFHS Network)
TMHS boys prevail in possibly their final home game ever against JDHS, with merger of schools pending

Girls play final home games next weekend; both local schools play each other again tonight at JDHS.

Iditarod winner Brent Sass poses for photos with lead dogs Morello, left, and Slater after winning the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska, March 15, 2022. A second musher has been disqualified from the world’s most famous sled dog race. The governing body of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race said in a one-sentence statement late Thursday night, Feb. 22, 2024, that it has withdrawn 2022 champion Brent Sass just days before the start of this year’s race. (Anne Raup/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
Assault claims roil Iditarod sled dog race as 2 top mushers are disqualified, then 1 reinstated

Claims of violence against women are roiling the world’s most famous sled… Continue reading

Forest Wagner visits Kanuti Hot Springs, located in Interior Alaska not far from the Arctic Circle. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Alaska hot springs, far and wide

After a few hours of skiing through deep snow, Forest Wagner and… Continue reading

Thunder Mountain High School’s Thomas Baxter (#33) takes a shot under the basket against Ketchikan High School’s Jonathan Scoblic during Saturday’s game at TMHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Fit to be tied: TMHS and Ketchikan split weekend games, leaving all Southeast region teams at .500

Falcons and JDHS, after splitting games last week, face each other again on Friday and Saturday.

A female varied thrush pauses to look around during her foraging bout. (Photo by Helen Unruh)
On the Trails: Early signs of spring

The ground is heavily blanketed with snow. The snow berms in my… Continue reading

Thunder Mountain High School’s Kerra Baxter (#22) tries to penetrate Colony High School’s defense during Saturday’s game at TMHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
No. 4 TMHS girls, hit by injuries and illness, can’t keep up with No. 2 Colony

Falcons recover from 71-31 rout Friday, keep Saturday’s game even until fourth quarter in 57-48 loss.

Brenda William-See attempts a fast-break layup for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Thursday’s game against Colony High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
JDHS girls take early lead, but lose at home to No. 2 Colony 73-20

No. 4 THMS plays visting Knights at home Friday and Saturday.

Most Read