The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boys basketball team just returned from playing two away conference games against Ketchikan High School, going 1-1, but as coach Robert Casperson explained, the team was in a “pretty fortunate position” with only needing to win one game to secure the No. 1 seed at regions.
The Region tournament is set to begin Wednesday, March 8, at Thunder Mountain High School. The host team will take on Ketchikan High School in the first 4A boys game of the tournament since JDHS has locked up the top seed.
“One of our goals we set at the start of the year was to try and go undefeated in conference and that goal is no longer viable but we also had a goal of securing the No. 1 seed in regions, and so we at least met that goal, which is nice,” Casperson said.
Friday’s game resulted in a 71-52 loss for the Crimson Bears, which Casperson said largely came down to struggles within the third quarter when JDHS only managed to put up 6 points. Junior Sean Oliver and senior Orion Dybdahl would tie for the lead in scoring at 15 points with junior Alwen Carrillo coming in with 11 points of his own.
Saturday’s game would prove to have a different outcome with JDHS securing the win at 57-51. Though the game was close at times, Casperson said the main difference between both games was consistency for the Crimson Bears.
“We just kind of had an opportunity to seal the deal during the fourth quarter which our guys I believe did a really great job of taking care of the ball, making the right plays, forcing the defense into positions where they were going to have to foul,” Casperson said. “We weren’t putting up shots we didn’t need, we were just being real patient and waiting for layups and then making free throws, so they did a great job overall.”
On Saturday, Carrillo led in scoring with 20 points while Oliver and Dybdahl tied once again at 15 points each. Senior Bodhi Nelson hit a 3-point shot in the second quarter with freshman Brandon Casperson and senior Kai Hargrave each putting up 2 points of their own.
JDHS now holds a 15-8 record overall and are 5-1 in their conference. Next up, the Crimson Bears boys will face off against Thunder Mountain High School for two final conference games ahead of regions. JDHS plays at TMHS on Tuesday and at home on Wednesday, both games scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Casperson said a lot of credit has to go to Thunder Mountain for being a team whose “record does not tell their story.”
The two teams have played twice this year with JDHS prevailing in a pair of extremely close contests.
“They’ve had a very difficult schedule, they’ve played a lot of top notch teams, they’re truly competitive and very dangerous, they can score quickly from multiple players,” Casperson said. “So, with a team that can perform at their level, you don’t ever want to let your guard down. We know coming in that they’re going to be prepared and looking to prove something, so we’ve got two games this week that are going to be intense and highly competitive.”
Lastly, Casperson said he couldn’t be more thankful toward his assistant coaches, Coach John Sleppy and Coach Vince Yadao for their willingness to step in over the weekend to allow him to see his own daughter’s play and dance.
“I’ve been coaching 23 years and I’ll tell you what, I’ve spent a lot of time with other people’s kids,” Casperson said. “So, to have the opportunity to spend some time with mine is much appreciated.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com.