Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé basketball teams will face Thunder Mountain High School one last time in regular season play this weekend, as the school also hosts Senior Night and a suicide prevention event. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé basketball teams will face Thunder Mountain High School one last time in regular season play this weekend, as the school also hosts Senior Night and a suicide prevention event. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

JDHS prepares to end regular basketball season with eventful weekend

Senior Night and suicide prevention

Editor’s note: This article includes references to suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7. It can be reached at (800) 273-8255.

As the regular season draws to a close this weekend, the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé basketball teams will end things with an event-filled schedule.

Senior Night and a suicide prevention presentation, “Take a Timeout to Talk,” will accompany games Saturday and Friday respectively, said boys coach Robert Casperson.

“I feel strongly that this is a very important topic to be aware of. Our program has been directly impacted by suicide over the years,” Casperson said. “It’s necessary. We have a platform we can use to promote positive messages.”

The event, hosted at the game by the nonprofit Find Your Fire, is aimed at encouraging those considering self-harm to take a moment and pause.

“Most people can get through it with the right help and support” Casperson said. “That’s what we’re trying to give people the tools for, that help and that support.”

The first iteration of the event was in 2020, said Melissa McCormick, whose organization hosts the event. Superintendent Bridget Weiss will speak at halftime of the boy’s varsity game on Friday night.

“This’ll be the second time we’ve done this,” Casperson said. “We’re encouraging everyone to wear purple. The boys teams will be wearing purple shirts during warmups. We’re just trying to make it a very visual thing.”

The pandemic and the weight of the world has seen a rise in mental health concerns for students, Casperson said.

“We don’t operate in bubbles. I’m sure it has to do with the totality of life. There’s some reality to the fact that people are tired,” Casperson said. “Being a teacher, we’ve seen a huge uptick in concerns and issues around suicide and suicidal ideations.”

Senior night/final games

Both the boys and girls team will take part in Senior Night on Saturday between the girls and boys games against Thunder Mountain High School. Seniors and their families will be recognized with an opportunity to take photos in a commemorative event, Casperson said.

“I know we’re excited to play, these being our last home games with regions right around the corner. It’s always an exciting time of year,” Casperson said. “If we win one more game we have the No. 1 seed locked up for regions. That’s something to look forward to.”

If JDHS boys can win one more game to lock up the top seed, they’ll have a bye while THMS and Ketchikan High School brace up in the Region V tournament, beginning in Ketchikan beginning Tuesday. The JDHS and TMHS have split two games this year. Both were home contests for TMHS. Last weekend, JDHS won a game and lost a game at Kayhi.

Orion Dybdahl and Thomas Baxter jump during tipoff in an earlier game between JDHS and TMHS. The two schools will meet again on Friday and Saturday. The games will have Region V Tournament seeding implications for JDHS. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Orion Dybdahl and Thomas Baxter jump during tipoff in an earlier game between JDHS and TMHS. The two schools will meet again on Friday and Saturday. The games will have Region V Tournament seeding implications for JDHS. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

The JDHS girls are looking at a brisk pair of games this weekend, said Coach Steven Potter.

“We’ve had a week off and we’re looking forward to getting on the court and playing,” Potter said. “We’re expecting everything to be hard fought, nothing to be easy.”

For Potter, the biggest thing on the horizon is the Region V tournament, where JDHS is the second seed to TMHS’s three seed..

“It’s hard not to be thinking about Southeast. We have to play TMHS basically three times in a row. I think we’re ready to get it moving,” Potter said. “There’s a couple issues on our bench that might come into play. We’re not at 100% but we’ll be ready to play.”

Ketchikan will be a tough opponent but not letting the games get away from JDHS could make the difference, Potter said.

“They definitely have beaten us. But we’ve been ahead in the fourth quarter of all four games. A little better execution on our part as opposed to falling victim to their pressure at the end of the game could change the result,” Potter said. “A couple plays we make in our favor as opposed to the ones that go in their favor changes the whole dynamic.”

JDHS’ Mila Hargrave pivots toward the hoop for a tough inside shot while tightly defended by TMHS’ Sydney Strong. In the background JDHS’ Kiyara Miller and TMHS’ Kerra Baxter look on. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

JDHS’ Mila Hargrave pivots toward the hoop for a tough inside shot while tightly defended by TMHS’ Sydney Strong. In the background JDHS’ Kiyara Miller and TMHS’ Kerra Baxter look on. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

These final games to end the 2021-22 season should be good ones, Potter said. The TMHS girls have played hard against JDHS over the season, enjoying leads at halftime in the most-recent two games between the teams. The Crimson Bears roared back to win the contests.

“I hope they come out and watch the games. They should be exciting,” Potter said. “Something you’ve never seen before seems to happen every game.”

Casperson echoed that, hoping Juneau residents would come out to support the teams, the seniors, and the suicide prevention message.

“We hope that it’s a strong showing by the community and fan support,” Casperson said. “They continuously stand behind these kids and lift them up.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.