On paper, Thunder Mountain point guard Chase Saviers’ stands 5 foot, 8 inches. But the dynamic senior played taller than everyone else Saturday when the Falcons (11-5, 2-0 Southeast) took on crosstown rival Juneau-Douglas (8-8, 0-4 Southeast).
Saviers scorched the court with 40 points — rattling off 15 straight in the second quarter — to help his team to a 71-61 victory.
“It started with a couple buckets in the first half that I surprised myself went in,” Saviers said about getting on a roll. “Sometimes you just have that touch.”
After scoring 27 points the night before, break-out Falcons shooting guard Noah Reishus-O’Brien was held to 11. Saviers, however, was more than happy to pick up where his teammate left off.
“I mean, what can you say about him, he put up 40 tonight, I just love him, he’s been working his butt of for four years so I’m really proud of him,” said THMS head coach John Blasco. “It’s a team win, even though Chase scored a lot, he complemented everybody else.”
Erik Kelly had 23 points for the Crimson Bears. Bryce Swofford, coming off the bench for the first time this season, had 14.
The Falcons led 37-29 at halftime, but showed signs of weakness early in the third quarter. Juneau-Douglas provided full-court pressure on their smaller opponent, jumping passing lanes with their long, outstretched arms. This amounted to several transition buckets for Kelly. After a 6 point first half, the junior exploded for 13 in the third quarter.
“We made that real nice run to start the second half, and I liked that we were patient offensively and moving the ball,” said JDHS head coach Robert Casperson.
The Falcons did not fold though, and began taking better care of the ball.
Undersized but not out-worked, Vaipuna “Puna” Toutaiolepo extended Falcons possessions with hard-fought offensive rebounds. It was just one of many examples of reserve Falcons doing the little things that made a difference in the game.
“That’s what I talked about in the lockerroom afterwards is that every guy that came in contributed in some way, some how,” said Blasco. “John Morris knocking down the free throws late, [Toutaiolepo] getting those big rebounds late. Zeb Storie as the point guard, he hasn’t been playing a lot of minutes, but he helped break the [full-court press] for us.”
The Falcons led 51-46 after the third quarter.
JDHS made it a 60-56 with under 3 minutes to play, but couldn’t convert on open jump shots. The home team made only one 3 point field goal in the game.
The Crimson Bears were soon forced to foul Thunder Mountain, and TMHS made five consecutive trips to the foul line.
With 16.6 seconds left and up 5, Thunder Mountain’s Saviers made one of two free throws, enough to reach the scoring milestone.
“The reality is they are playing good basketball, they know their limits, and they are really good at using their quickness to their advantage,” said Casperson. “Their guards shoot it — last night we struggled with Noah, and tonight we couldn’t stop Chase.”
Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org