Malakai Nichols, left, drives against LJ Elizarde during boys varsity basketball practice at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire FIle)

Malakai Nichols, left, drives against LJ Elizarde during boys varsity basketball practice at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire FIle)

JDHS, Vegas high school game comes down to last minute

JDHS to host home opener Friday.

The Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé boys basketball team pulled off a come-from-behind win on Saturday morning at the Tarkanian Classic basketball tournament.

The Crimson Bears defeated Mojave High School of Las Vegas 84-82 at Coronado High School in Henderson, Nevada. Cooper Kriegmont scored 26 points, LJ Elizarde scored 16 points and Brock McCormick and Malakai Nichols scored 12 points apiece for the victors.

“Scoring 84 points is great,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said by phone Saturday, “but giving up 82 is not where we want to be defensively.”

JDHS was winless through the first three games of the tournament, which began on Wednesday and attracted over 100 teams from around the country. The Crimson Bears played in the Premier Division with over a dozen other teams from both the West and East Coast. JDHS lost to Timpanogos High School (Utah) 81-46 on Wednesday and Doris Johnson Senior High School (Bahamas) 48-40 on Thursday. On Friday night, JDHS fell to Legacy High School (Nevada) 72-69.

“Our turnovers and giving up rebounds were the themes of how we ended up having problems in different games,” Casperson said. “We did better with that today. We did rebound better today. We made a focused effort on blocking out and that helped up immensely on the glass.”

The Crimson Bears showed little signs of fatigue accumulated from earlier contests against Mojave. The Rattlesnakes pressured the Crimson Bears’ ball handlers with full-court defense, forcing JDHS to push the ball quickly up the court.

“While we were able to get the ball down the floor successfully a number of times and end up scoring in transition out of it, I still feel like we had way too many turnovers and that’s an area we’ll have to address moving forward,” Casperson said.

The Crimson Bears fell behind 43-42 midway through the second half and spent the rest of the game trading the lead with their opponent. With one minute left, JDHS forward Garrett Bryant made 1 of 2 free throws to put JDHS up 79-78 and 30 seconds later Elizarde’s jumper pushed the advantage to 81-78.

The Rattlesnakes couldn’t score on the other end and were forced to foul Nichols, who made two free throws to seal the win.

The Crimson Bears play in their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday against Haines High School as part of the Princess Cruises Capital City Classic. Last year’s tournament attracted Maine-Endwell High School from Upstate New York, and teams from such far-flung places as Australia have attended the tournament in the past.

The JDHS boys play again at 7 p.m. Saturday and Monday. The JDHS girls will play at 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday. All the tournament action takes place at JDHS.

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or

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