The Juneau-Douglas boys found out why East Anchorage is the No. 3 ranked team in the state on Saturday night.
After a lackluster first half, the Thunderbirds scored the first 16 points of the third quarter to turn the tide and secure a 68-57 win. East won by a similar margin on Friday night. Both games were played at JDHS.
“They’re a great team, they got a good coach, they probably talked in the locker room (at halftime) and came up with a plan,” JDHS sophomore Cooper Kriegmont said. “We didn’t adapt their second-half offense quick enough.”
Kriegmont scored a team-high of 19 points, Krishant Samtani had 15 points and Philip Gonzales had seven points. Kriegmont and Samtani got to the free-throw line repeatedly, which continues to be a big factor for success of the undersized team. JDHS shot a sparkling 15 of 16 at the line Saturday, exactly a week after making 29 of 35 freebies against Ketchikan.
“I thought we played hard, we just had some mental breakdowns, some mental mistakes, probably more mental mistakes than really physical mistakes,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said.
Seniors Jaron Williams and Kaeleb Johnson scored 20 and 18 points respectively for the Thunderbirds, who improved to 17-2. Andrew Graves, who used his 6-foot-11 frame to record a half dozen blocks in the third quarter, scored 14 points.
“We came out pretty flat in the first half and brought it back up in the second half,” Williams said. “They have a pretty good team — we just had to pick it up a little bit more.”
Kriegmont found his stroke early on, making three jumpers in the first quarter. The sophomore’s play seemed to inspire his teammates, who didn’t hesitate to shoot if they were left open. Samtani’s 3 in the second frame kicked off a 14-0 run. JDHS led 36-23 at halftime.
East quickly trimmed the JDHS lead to 36-30 inside the first two minutes of the third quarter. The Thunderbirds were in the lead by the time JDHS recorded its first points of the frame — a pair of Samtani free throws with 3:06 left — and never trailed during the final eight minutes.
“We executed pretty well in the first half, we just missed shot after shot after shot, and Juneau made shot after shot after shot,” East coach Chuck Martin said. “That’s the game of basketball. That’s why you preach to these kids rebounding and defense and taking care of the basketball because some nights that’s what happens. Teams make shots, and you don’t, and you can still find ways to win.”
Graves and Johnson effectively put the game away with 2:49 to go. The big man Graves secured an offensive rebound before Johnson sunk a corner 3 for a 59-51 lead.
Ketchikan deals Thunder Mountain loss
Thunder Mountain lost to Ketchikan 64-51 in Southeast Conference play on Saturday night.
Junior Brady Carandang scored 15 points and senior Puna Toutaiolepo had 11 points.
Kings junior shooting guard Chris Lee bullied his way to 18 points and senior Marcus Lee added 15 points. The Lees, Cody Kemble and Wyatt Barajas shot a combined 16 0f 19 at the foul line. TMHS shot 12 of 17 from the line.
Crimson Bears celebrate seniors
JDHS honored six seniors before the game: Samtani, Gonzales, Israel Yadao, Tristan Bryant, Jarald Soriano and Chloe Goble. Samtani is second in scoring this season while Yadao leads the team in assists. Here is what Coach Casperson wrote about each one:
Chloe Goble (student manager) — “In just her second year filling a managerial role in our program, Chloe has quickly become an invaluable member of our staff. Not only is she able to complete routine tasks with ease and anticipate the needs of those around her, but she has also showed amazing initiative by looking for other areas in our program that can be improved. She’s tackled tasks like organizing our storage lockers, uploading film after games and maintaining our statistical database. I believe Chloe has ‘CEO’ written in her future, and I’m excited to see how things turn out during her next phase of life.”
Philip Gonzales (captain) — “Philip has a unique mix of size and athleticism that has proven problematic for teams throughout his career. He has shared his toughness and team-first mentality with us this year, often displayed through his willingness to sacrifice his body and take charges. He leads us in “defensive dunks” (a term I made up for him), having taken nearly 17 charges to this point in the season. I greatly appreciate his leadership with this group, too. Philip has been a pleasure to work with in high school and I know that his personality traits will guide him to success in college and beyond.”
Israel Yadao (captain) — “Israel (‘Is’) has logged the most minutes on the team this year and shouldered the responsibility of initiating our offense and defending the other team’s best ball handler. Neither of these are easy tasks and it takes a special kind of mentally and physically tough player to fulfill this role in our program. Israel’s commitment to strength and conditioning in the offseason has allowed him to handle the responsibilities of his position in a very effective manner. Due to his work-ethic, Israel’s teammates selected him as their ‘talking captain’ for the season, which is considered one of the highest honors in our program. I appreciate Israel’s selfless devotion to the program and believe that he will continue to succeed moving forward as he sets new goals in his life.”
Krishant Samtani (captain) — “Krishant is our ‘silent assassin.’ While he may not be our most vocal player, he certainly leads by example and has a motor that never seems to run out of gas. He has proven to be one of the hardest workers I’ve had as a head coach. During his four years with the program, Krishant has made huge gains each year; beginning with the C-team, moving up to JV and finally ascending to the varsity. His strong work ethic and commitment to improvement will allow Krishant to finish out his senior season not only as a team captain, but also as one of our leading scorers. This combination of improvement, leadership and success is a feat rarely seen in Crimson Bear basketball, and the same talents that allowed him this opportunity will serve him will throughout life.”
Jarald Soriano — “Jarald has become a steady contributor at the JV level in his senior season. He slashes to the basket with reckless abandon, which is exciting to watch. I am proud of his hard work and dedication to continue improving within our program. He is well-liked among his teammates and offers his friendship and smile quickly. We are thankful for the leadership he has provided to the JV and C-team players in practice. We believe that Jarald will continue to work hard to achieve his goals after high school.”
Tristan Bryant — “Tristan is a newcomer to the varsity this season. I am incredibly proud of the improvement and enormous strides he has made on and off the court since his junior season. Never in my experience has someone come so far in such a short amount of time. His demeanor in practice has become a welcomed mix of intense focus and light-hearted moments, which becomes evident when he makes two free throws in a row to end practice. And as an added bonus this season, Tristan has become a real fan favorite. I believe he is on the right path and look forward to observing his progress as he continues his journey into adulthood.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.