The games had different outcomes but shared the same ingredients —fierce competition, scoring outbursts and all-Juneau participants.
Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé split a pair of games on Friday and Saturday with JDHS winning the first game 63-50 and TMHS prevailing 56-55 in overtime on Saturday.
“At the end of the day, I just love that we got to play 36 minutes of basketball,” said TMHS coach John Blasco in a post-win interview. “I think we gave the fans a great night of basketball. It was a fun high school basketball game.”
The Falcons led for nearly all of the Saturday night game, but the Crimson Bears outscored their opponents 14-8 in the final quarter in regulation to push the game to overtime.
“It can take a lot of effort to catch up, a lot of energy and emotion to get there, and we did,” said JDHS coach Robert Casperson on Saturday. “I was really impressed that, while we didn’t play as well as we wanted to, we had opportunities to win. I was pleased with our guys in that respect.”
TMHS sophomore Thomas Baxter led all scorers with 20 points on Saturday, including half of the Falcons’ 8 points in overtime. Junior M.J. Tupou, who scored four points in the game’s final 4 minutes, and senior Wallace Adams also broke double-digits for the Falcons.
The Crimson Bears scoring was paced by sophomore Sean Oliver’s 15 points. Sophomore Alwen Carrillo scored 14, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime.
“My kids competed, even with mistakes, they picked each other right back up, and were ready to keep getting after it,” Blasco said. “J-D, they just kept executing and knocking down big shots. They weren’t going away by any means.”
Friday night gymnasium lights
The Crimson Bears jumped out to a 17-6 lead in the first quarter of Friday’s game, and the Falcons were never able to catch up.
The J-D boys won 63-50 with a major lift from Carrillo’s 21 points. Those included 13 points in a bombastic first quarter.
“They’ve been playing extremely hard the last few weeks,” said JDHS boys coach Robert Casperson following the Friday night win. “It’s just shots haven’t fallen, but tonight, maybe it was playing at home —essentially —being in our hometown, sleeping in our own beds that made a difference. The guys did a great job. I’m extremely proud.”
Thunder Mountain chipped away at the JDHS lead throughout the game and came within 7 points late in the game, but the comeback effort fell short.
“They established that 8-to-12-point lead that we never could get over the hurdle,” Blasco said. “It was physical, it was a battle, the guys were definitely feeling it afterwards, but that’s kind of what you expect it’s a physical conference game.”
Late in the fourth quarter, JDHS was able to build on its lead as Kai Hargrave went 6-for-6 on free throws and the team placed an emphasis on running down the clock.
Casperson said the Crimson Bears are showing signs of learning how to win and manage the clock.
“It is a young group, and they’re gaining a ton of experience, and this game was very valuable for adding to our experience,” Casperson said.
With a win and a loss each, TMHS’ record is now 6-8 overall and 1-3 in conference. JDHS’ record is now 4-12 overall and 1-1 in conference.
Next, JDHS is set to host Wasilla High School on Thursday before a pair of home games on Friday and Saturday against Ketchikan. TMHS is scheduled to welcome Wasilla to the Thunder Dome for games Friday and Saturday.