Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Mila Hargrave (#24) and Bella Whisenant (#44) fight for the ball during Saturday’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Mila Hargrave (#24) and Bella Whisenant (#44) fight for the ball during Saturday’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

JDHS gets pair of home court wins — one easy, one in a battle — against Ketchikan

Gwen Nizich scores 25 of Crimson Bears’ 45 points Saturday, including game-clinching free throws.

Gwen Nizich scored 25 points of the Crimson Bears’ 45 points against Ketchikan High School on Saturday night and it was the final two — with the 5’9” sophomore guard hitting two free throws with 1.4 seconds left — that put a back-and-forth game out of reach in a 45-40 victory at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé.

The win against their Southeast rival was considerably more difficult than a 58-37 JDHS win over the Ketchikan Kings on Friday night, which saw the Crimson Bears rally from a 10-8 deficit in the first quarter to take a 31-13 halftime lead. The pair of wins gives Juneau a 2-0 4A Southeast Conference record (5-3 overall), while Ketchikan stands at 0-2 in the conference and 3-4 overall.

Gwen Nizich takes a jump shot for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé against Ketchikan High School on Saturday night at JDHS. Nizich led the Crimson Bears with 25 points in their 45-40 win. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Gwen Nizich takes a jump shot for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé against Ketchikan High School on Saturday night at JDHS. Nizich led the Crimson Bears with 25 points in their 45-40 win. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Rayna Tuckwood, a 5’5” senior guard for the Crimson Bears, said after Saturday’s game they expected the second matchup to be closer.

“I think they were talking a lot more,” she said. “They were better on defense. They really brought their game tonight.”

“We knew they were going to come back harder than they did before. And so we were just all talking as a team and we’re like ‘We need to keep it up. We need to keep talking. We just need to stay up on them.’ And I think it worked out pretty well.”

A low-scoring 9-6 first quarter in favor of JDHS on Saturday turned into a 26-25 nailbiter at halftime. But Juneau began to pull away and was leading by eight points with seconds remaining when Ketchikan hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to narrow the gap to five.

The Crimson Bears’ lead was down to four with about four minutes left when Nizich hit one of her three three-pointers to extend the margin to seven. On the next JDHS possession she was fouled while making a shot under the basket and the resulting free throw gave her team a 10-point lead with 3:31 remaining.

Chole Casperson (#11) goes up for a rebound for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Saturday’s game against Ketchikan High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Chole Casperson (#11) goes up for a rebound for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé during Saturday’s game against Ketchikan High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

JDHS on a subsequent possession was then able to kill more than a minute off the clock before Ketchikan was forced to start fouling the Crimson Bears. Chole Casperson, a 5’6” senior forward, and then Nizich hit clutch free throws in the waning moments to seal the win for Juneau.

“We just need to be smart with the ball, hold on to it, no stupid passes,” Casperson said afterward about the strategy during the final few minutes.

While both teams are familiar with each other since they play often, what happens during individual games often takes varying paths, with Saturday’s game getting physical at times, JDHS head coach Tanya Nizich said.

“They were aggressive on defense,” she said. “We were playing aggressive, but we were also watching our fouls. I’d say it seemed a little handsy on their part, but we’re just trying to maintain and not getting into foul trouble on our end.”

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Nadia Wilson (#12) is fouled by Ketchikan High School’s Bella Whisenant (#44) during Saturday’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Nadia Wilson (#12) is fouled by Ketchikan High School’s Bella Whisenant (#44) during Saturday’s game at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Bree Johnson was Ketchikan’s leading scorer on Saturday with 19 points, the only player besides Nizich in double figures.

Johnson was also the Kings’ dominant scorer on Friday with 25 points, more than double the total of the rest of her teammates. Nizich and Layla Tokuoka, a 5’5” freshman guard, led JDHS with 17 points apiece, while Mila Hargrave, a 6’1” senior center, had 12 points for the Crimson Bears.

Juneau took a 21-point lead at the end of the third quarter of Friday’s game and coasted from there to an easy win.

“I think most of our shots were falling and we were all communicating pretty well,” Tuckwood said. “We were all working as a team really well that night.”

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

Tanya Nizich, head coach of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s girls’ basketball team, gives instructions to players during the closing minutes of Saturday’s game against Ketchikan High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Tanya Nizich, head coach of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s girls’ basketball team, gives instructions to players during the closing minutes of Saturday’s game against Ketchikan High School at JDHS. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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