Soldotna’s Danica Schmidt squeezes between Juneau-Douglas’ Caitlin Pusich and Cassie Dzinich for a shot Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Danica Schmidt squeezes between Juneau-Douglas’ Caitlin Pusich and Cassie Dzinich for a shot Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Juneau girls nip Soldotna twice

The role players of Juneau-Douglas did their job so Crimson Bears playmaker Caitlin Pusich could do her job.

Pusich scored five points in the final minute of the game as visiting Juneau-Douglas escaped a three-point hole in the final minute and scratched out a 49-47 victory over Soldotna in nonconference action.

The Crimson Bears (9-15, 4-2 SEC) had defeated the Stars (10-14 overall) 57-36 on Thursday, but Friday was different.

“I think Soldotna played with much more purpose,” Juneau-Douglas assistant coach Steve Potter said. “They were cutting harder and trapping harder.

“We weren’t mentally prepared for that.”

Soldotna head coach Kyle McFall said the Stars had tried to match up with the Crimson Bears on Thursday, but found much more success running a 1-3-1 trap Friday.

Juneau led 18-12 after a quarter and 32-23 at the half, but within the first minute of the third quarter, both of the Crimson Bears’ leading scorers were on the bench.

Pusich, a 5-foot-10 junior who finished with 19 points, picked up her fourth foul and would not return until 7 minutes, 7 seconds, remained in the game.

Cassie Dzinich, a 5-11 senior, hurt her knee with 7:41 left in the third quarter and would not return. Potter said it was too early to say after the game the extent of the injury.

SoHi cut the lead to 41-37 after three quarters, then tied the affair at 41 with 6:23 to play on a jumper by Drysta Crosby-Schneider.

While happy with the comeback and effort, McFall said the Stars need to start executing down the stretch in close games. SoHi would only score six more points the rest of the way.

“Our Achilles’ heel this season is we’ve lost five or six games by two or three points,” McFall said. “It’s because we need to start doing the little things that win games.”

For starters, the Stars were 1 for 5 from the line in the final quarter, a stat that only didn’t destroy them because Juneau was 3 for 9.

Brit Blossom put Soldotna in position to win when she nailed a 3 for a 45-44 lead with 1:21 left, then ran out for an easy layup for a 47-44 game with 1:07 to play.

With the role players having kept it close, it was time for Pusich to step up as the playmaker. She drained a corner 3 with 50 seconds left for a 47-all game.

“We talked about on the bench being ready to go in and play,” Potter said of Pusich. “Sometimes with four fouls, the tendency is to not be aggressive.”

Soldotna then committed the first of two turnovers in the final 36 seconds — more of McFall’s little things.

Still more came when Juneau missed two shots but got the rebound both times until Pusich was fouled with 15 seconds left and made the score 49-47.

After another SoHi turnover, Juneau’s Kiana Potter missed both free throws with 7 seconds left, but Juneau rebounded the missed free throw and the game was over.

Blossom had 17 for SoHi, while Aliann Schmidt had 13. McFall said Blossom had been frustrated with her play after Thursday’s loss, so it was nice to see her bounce back. SoHi’s Mei Miller had to be helped off after hurting an ankle in the first quarter, but she came back to score five points in the second half.

Kiana Potter of Juneau-Douglas drives between Soldotna’s Kiana Holland and Mei Miller on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kiana Potter of Juneau-Douglas drives between Soldotna’s Kiana Holland and Mei Miller on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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