Juneau-Douglas High School senior Erik Kelly didn’t give up.
Kelly missed a game-tying free throw with 26 seconds left in Thursday’s game against Thunder Mountain High School but had one big play left in him.
“I was definitely upset and I owed it to my team to get that rebound after missing those free throws,” said Kelly.
After a Kasey Watts steal, Kelly grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a three-point play with 0.7 seconds remaining to seal a 47-45 Crimson Bears win over Thunder Mountain in the third round of the ASAA Region V 4A tournament in Ketchikan.
“He worked extremely hard to get through a very tough block out,” said JDHS head coach Robert Casperson. “Puna (Toutaiolepo) is a very good rebounder and he’s very strong and Erik just tracked that ball and was able to rip it out of the air and go up and give us a chance to win.”
Watts scored 14 points and Kelly added 13 for JDHS, whose season was in jeopardy after TMHS went on a 12-1 fourth-quarter run and took a 45-43 lead with 30 seconds remaining.
TMHS senior Josh McAndrews, who scored six points in the first quarter, led the Falcons with 13 total points. After a scoreless first half, senior Luke Clark added eight. Senior Roy Tupou and sophomore Brady Carandang scored seven.
The Falcons’ zone defense took away the first and second options of the Crimson Bears. Defenders gravitated to every ball sent to Kelly, who scored six points in the first half.
JDHS trailed 23-17 at the half but took control of the game in the third quarter. The Crimson Bears scored three straight 3-pointers and took a seven-point lead late in the quarter.
JDHS had four 3-pointers in the game to TMHS’ two.
“One of the things that probably hasn’t happened all year for us is we made more 3’s than our opponent,” Casperson said. “So that definitely eased up some pressure, Luke (Mallinger) got his two 3’s in that third quarter and that erases that lead.”
JDHS plays Ketchikan Friday at 8:15 p.m. The Crimson Bears will have to win that game and one more on Saturday in order to win the Region V championship.
The JDHS girls also defeated TMHS on Thursday. The Crimson Bears took the lead with one minute left in the game, winning 44-40. Check the Juneau Empire online for a recap of that game.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.