The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team made their families and fans nervous again, as they trailed Ketchikan nearly the entire semifinals game at the state tournament in Anchorage.
That is, until JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins hit a game-winning buzzer beater that punched his team’s ticket to Saturday’s championship game.
With the ball and nine seconds left on the clock, JDHS senior Guy Bean inbounded to Tompkins at the baseline. Ketchikan, in the double bonus, couldn’t foul as Tompkins — who almost lost his dribble at half — took the ball all the way down to the right elbow, and flushed the game winner from 12 feet.
“Whichever option it was, we wanted Kaleb (Tompkins) getting the ball,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “He didn’t panic, he kept that clock running in his head, and he took a legitimate shot at the basket where a lot of kids might have rushed something and thrown it up there. But once he saw that opening, he had a great follow through on the shot and dropped it home. It was one of the more impressive things I’ve seen out of a high school kid in my 17 years of coaching.”
JDHS won a low-scoring, physical 42-40 game against their experienced Southeast rivals.
The Crimson Bears started slowly again in the semifinal game, continuing a trend started Thursday against Bartlett in the quarter finals. JDHS was down 4-13 by the start of the second quarter.
The Crimson Bears found a little more offense in the second quarter, as Ketchikan had to sit starters Jason James and Matt Standley, who both had two fouls early in the second. Tompkins would hit a deep 3-pointer in the quarter and spur his team to a 13-8 run to finish the half down 17-21. The Crimson Bears shot a paltry 23 percent in the first half, mirroring their 21 percent first-half shooting against Bartlett the night before.
Coach Casperson talked about how Ketchikan held JDHS down in the first half.
“Ketchikan played a heck of a game,” he said. “They did a great job controlling the tempo and keeping the scoring down. Certainly we like to try to attack and score quickly. … It was a real grind-it-out kind of game,” Casperson said.
The physicality continued in the third quarter, with Ketchikan getting into foul trouble early. JDHS went 4-8 from the line in the quarter while Ketchikan hit 5-6. Ketchikan’s big man, Nathan Bonck, earned his fourth foul with 2:35 to go in the period and had to sit. Matt Standley earned his third but stayed in the game. Going into the final period, JDHS remained behind 27-30.
The fourth quarter belonged to JDHS’ second team all-state guard Tompkins (who also earned JDHS’ first tie of the game Thursday night on a 3-pointer with 3:20 to go in the final period). The Crimson Bears’ first lead of the game came on a nice up-and-under by Tompkins with 2:08 left. The breaks seemed to go JDHS’ way in the final period, as they earned key possessions off charges and travels.
But with 15 seconds left, Ketchikan’s all-conference guard Matt Standley had something to say before JDHS could enjoy the win. Down three points with the ball on JDHS’ baseline, Ketchikan’s Mo Bullock inbounded the ball to Standley who drained a contested three to tie the game 40-40 before Tompkins hit his game-winner.
“I thought we saw the light at the end of the tunnel there, and then Matt Standley comes back — he’s had a heck of a year, all-conference kid — and just drains that three on us. It was good defense, and even better offense,” Casperson said.
JDHS moves on to the championship tomorrow at 8 p.m. against Dimond High School. Dimond beat East Anchorage in their semifinal.
Casperson said his team will have their hands full with Dimond.
“Dimond is very well-coached,” he said. “They play a very solid game with ball control, they handle it real well, they don’t get rattled very easily. East Anchorage is a very athletic team, and they like to press and tried to turn them (Dimond) over a lot, and Dimond did a great job handling that,” Casperson said.