The lead really should have been closer to 10 points. Instead, it was just three.
With two minutes left in a seesaw Princess Cruises Capital City Classic matchup against the reigning 3A state champion Barrow, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team missed three layups in a row, unable to build on a 60-57 lead.
“I thought that was a bad omen,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said.
It wasn’t, however, as the Crimson Bears regrouped and made several clutch baskets to secure a 68-63 Friday night victory. Cooper Kriegmont made two contested shots and Krishant Samtani, Brock McCormick and Tad Watson made free throws in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to give the home team its second win of the tournament.
The Crimson Bears won last year’s Christmastime tournament, and had a chance to do so again this year with another win over Maine-Endwell of upstate New York on Saturday.
Kriegmont finished with a team-high 21 points, Philip Gonzales had 15 points and McCormick had 13 points in the win.
Watson had only four points, but almost all of them came at critical junctures in the game. The 6-foot-1-inch junior’s free throw with 6.3 seconds helped put the game away.
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“I’m sure you could hear his knees knocking up there in the radio booth, but that was a big shot to give us that five-point lead and really kind of ice it,” Casperson said. “It’s a new moment for each of these kids. Every single one of them is experiencing something new in every single game this season.”
Big man Anthony Fruean scored 23 points, while Mese Unutoa and Kaino Texeira each had 15 points for the Whalers. Earlier in the tournament, on Thursday, Barrow defeated Maine-Endwell 73-69.
Barrow coach Daniel Thomas said he was happy with the way his team finished out the game.
“They were letting their emotions get to them, and then they collected themselves and they started to refocus on what was important in the game,” Thomas said. “I think that was when we brought it back within one possession, there was maybe less than a minute left… and that was when (JDHS) started hitting their shots and we couldn’t put one down.”
McCormick’s 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half gave the Crimson Bears a 36-31 lead, marking their largest lead up until that point.
The Whalers retook the lead in the first minute of the second half, and led 53-49 to start the fourth quarter. Unutoa’s floater with 7:40 remaining put the Whalers ahead 55-49.
Then the momentum shifted. McCormick fed Israel Yadao for a fast-break layup, made a 2-pointer on the right block and a 3-pointer from the left wing. On the next possession, Watson scored inside to cap a 9-0 run that gave JDHS a 58-55 lead. The Crimson Bears led by three or more points the rest of the way.
“Feeling pretty good,” McCormick said after the game. “I mean, Barrow won state last year, now we just gotta get one more ‘W’ tomorrow.”
JDHS made four 3-pointers and shot 14 of 20 from the foul line. Barrow connected on eight 3-pointers and made 13 of 20 free throws.
JDHS girls sink Barrow
JDHS won by double digits for the fourth consecutive game and remained undefeated on the season with its 66-46 win over Barrow at the Capital City Classic.
Junior Sadie Tuckwood scored four of her five 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 22 points in the Friday night contest. Senior Caitlin Pusich added 16 points and senior Alyxn Bohulano had 13 points. Both were terrific at the foul line, going 4-of-5 and 5-of-7, respectively.
The rest of the Crimson Bears’ free-throw shooting wasn’t as hot, shooting a combined 8-of-21.
Barrow’s Jordan Ahgeak scored 12 points and Caitlyn Brower had 10 points in the loss.
Maine-Endwell bulldozes Lathrop
Jack Coleman led the Maine-Endwell Spartans to a 72-50 win over Lathrop High at the Capital City Classic on Friday afternoon.
Coleman scored 14 points in the first half as the Spartans took control early and pulled away in the third quarter. Chad VanPatton had 16 points and Gannon Russell had 14 points for Maine-Endwell, the tournament’s lone representative of the Lower 48.
Tyriq Luke and Jakobee Johnson were the only Malemutes in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Both teams were coming off Thursday losses. The Spartans fell to Barrow 73-69 while Lathrop was clipped by JDHS 69-45.
East Anchorage downs Sitka
The East Anchorage girls used a balanced attack to defeat Sitka for their second Capital City Classic win. Fua Filoialii (seven points) and Kristi Anderson (seven points) were two of the nine Thunderbirds who registered points in a 38-28 victory.
Jessica Davis and Abby Forrester each had eight points for the Lady Wolves.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.