Playing in another close, physical match Saturday night, and in a loud, hostile atmosphere, the Service Cougars this time found the breaks going the way of the home team, and fell to the JDHS Bears in regulation.
With under a minute to go, Service’s Xavier Harris hit a 3-pointer, sending the visitors up 56-57. JDHS failed to score on the ensuing possession, but captain Kaleb Thompkins ran the ball down on a Service fast break, and on a hustle play that saw Thompkins run nearly out of the gym and onto Glacier Avenue, slapped the ball off Service’s Harris and earned a key possession back for the Crimson Bears. Thompkins then got to the line and split his shots to tie the game at 59. With 13 seconds left, Service Captain Nathan Fromm then missed a one-and-one, and on a near buzzer beater JDHS forward Erik Kelly netted the winning layup to end the game 61-59.
“The way it ended up I kind of felt like whoever had the ball at the end of the game had the best chance to win,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said.
JDHS was led in scoring by sophomore Erik Kelly with 14, followed closely by Thompkins with 13.
Service’s Nathan Fromm scored 16 and forward Alex Welch had 12.
The role of the raucous JDHS crowd wasn’t lost on Service coach Tyler Moore.
“We had a chance in a hostile environment to win at the end and, you know, missed a couple free throws,” he said.
Though disappointed with the loss, coach Moore saw some great things from his team, who at one point had an 11-point lead
“I thought we took care of the ball. That was important to us facing that full court press,” he said. “That’s been a struggle for us all year so it was nice to see us take care of the ball a little better.”
The game started out with both teams pressing and playing stingy defense. Junior Bryce Swofford showcased his ability to fill up a stat sheet, getting blocks for his team and limiting Service’s second chances off the glass. Despite Swofford’s play, the Crimson Bears found themselves trailing at the half, 26-33.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and the guys did that, the guys took responsibility for that,” Casperson said. “We put some things on the board and let them make the decisions on how they want their second half to go and they came back and made it an eight-minute ball game.”
Service will head back home having split games playing against each Juneau team. Service defeated Thunder Mountain High School on Friday in overtime. Both games were decided by a total of three points.