The Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team duked it out against Thunder Mountain High School on Saturday, clawing their way back into a close game that saw Thunder Mountain’s ball handlers get into early foul trouble, and JDHS getting the late-game breaks they needed to garner a win.
With only 37 seconds left, TMHS senior Ava Thompkins stormed down the court and scored an easy bucket to put her team up by one. JDHS freshman Erica Hurtte then came down and hit a layup of her own to give JDHS a one-point advantage. TMHS would turn over the ball on the ensuing possession and Hurtte would go to the line on a shooting foul, missing the first but nailing the second to put her team up by a bucket. With nine seconds left, TMHS’ tying attempt rattled out of the iron to end the game with JDHS winning 43-41.
The game was marked by uncharacteristic foul trouble for the Falcons, as they lost key ball handler Siniva Maka halfway through third and freshman starter Nina Fenumiai in the fourth. JDHS coach Lesslie Knight was happy with her team’s ability to get to the line, but intended on benefiting more from the charity stripe than the personnel advantage.
“We went to the free-throw line 52 times,” she said. “That’s unbelievable… but we didn’t make our free throws. The one thing getting to the free throw line did for us was get them in foul trouble.”
JDHS was led in scoring by senior Kallen Hoover with 12 and Hurtte with nine.
TMHS was led by Thompkins’ 14 points. Fenumiai added nine.
TMHS coach Tonya Nizich felt her team could have pulled out the win with a little better decision making.
“It comes down to passing, safe passes and smart decisions,” she said. “We didn’t do that and it showed and it killed us.”
The foul trouble didn’t help her team either.
“It always affects the game when you get players in foul trouble because then they start mentally playing differently… hopefully we can just move on and not foul as much. Easy to say, hard to do. We’ve never had a fouling issue each of the last seven games that we’ve played, so it’s a little bit different here.”
In the first half JDHS shot 28 free throws, with senior Kallen Hoover going to the line for four straight possessions, hitting 6-of-8 and closing the half with her team down 16-21.
The third quarter saw JDHS piling on the pressure, denying TMHS room to shoot and earning their first lead six minutes into the second half. After helping her team back into the game, Hoover went out late in the third with what looked to be an ankle injury, and the fourth took on an even tone as both teams tried to fill gaps in their lineups.
JDHS hit 22-of-50 from the free throw line in their win.