JDHS’ Austin McCurley drives to the hoop and is met by TMHS’ Braden Jenkins in a closely contested Region V tournament championship game between Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Thunder Mountain High School. (Courtesy Photo | Heather Holt)

JDHS’ Austin McCurley drives to the hoop and is met by TMHS’ Braden Jenkins in a closely contested Region V tournament championship game between Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Thunder Mountain High School. (Courtesy Photo | Heather Holt)

‘They really did not want to lose’: Scrappy game decides regional tournament boys champs

2 Juneau teams win regional titles

An earlier version of this story was written prior to the Alaska School Activities Association’s announcement that the 2020 State Basketball and Cheer championships were canceled. It has been updated to reflect the new information.

It was anyone’s game until the final buzzer sounded.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and Thunder Mountain High School boys faced off Friday at JDHS in what turned out to be the Region V 4A championship game. Every second of the game was fiercely contested.

TMHS ultimately prevailed 41-38, which gave the Crimson Bears their second loss of the tournament and clinched the regional title for the Falcons.

The game was physical and frenetic with fouls, turnovers, missed shots and fast breaks coming in flurries that drew emotional responses from the packed gym.

However, coach John Blasco said in crunch time the team displayed the collective identity that helped propel it to the tournament’s No. 1 seed.

“The whole season was about trusting each other,” Blasco said shortly after helping his team cut down the net.

[Juneau middle school wrestlers win state titles]

In a game in which neither team’s offense was able to find much of a rhythm, key separation came late in the game via clutch free throws from senior Brady Carandang, who led the Falcons with 16 points.

TMHS’ Brady Carandang makes his way down court while defended by JDHS’ Garrett Bryant and pursued by JDHS’ Cooper Kriegmont. (Courtesy Photo | Heather Holt)

TMHS’ Brady Carandang makes his way down court while defended by JDHS’ Garrett Bryant and pursued by JDHS’ Cooper Kriegmont. (Courtesy Photo | Heather Holt)

Cooper Kriegmont led JDHS with 14 points and played tough defense in the game.

Some timely shooting from TMHS senior Bryson Echiverri in the fourth quarter also helped the Falcons maintain the narrow four-point lead they had built when the third quarter came to a close.

“I’m happy for these seniors,” Blasco said. “I really am.”

He also paid compliments to JDHS.

“You got to give it up to those kids on the other side, J-D,” Blasco said. “They really did not want to lose.”

JDHS coach Robert Casperson said after the game he was incredibly proud of how h

is team played. He said it showed remarkable resilience and growth for a team that earlier in the season had lost 10 games in a row.

“This team has grown more than any other team I’ve had throughout the season,” Casperson said hoarsely after the game. “They never gave up. They never stopped fighting. It’s just unfortunate that we ran out of time.”

JDHS girls claim championship, too

Things were less dramatic in the Region V4A girls bracket.

JDHS claimed the regional title comfortably against Ketchikan High School. They led 22-10 at the half and ultimately won 50-26 behind 24 points from Kendyl Carson, who earned MVP chants while she helped cut down the net.

The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé girls basketball team stands with medals and their championship plaque Friday night after winning the Region V 4A championship game.

The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé girls basketball team stands with medals and their championship plaque Friday night after winning the Region V 4A championship game.

The game featured several long outlet passes that found Carson in stride on her way to the basket for layups and a collectively strong defensive effort from JDHS.

“When they try to press like that they make things available to you,” said JDHS girls coach Steve Potter. “It’s good that we could see that, we haven’t always seen that.”

He also praised the team’s ability to generate takeaways against a Ketchikan team he said had crafty guards.

“Our defense just started playing defense as a unit,” Potter said.

Looking to next year

The TMHS girls were the lone Juneau squad to not compete for a regional title.

The Lady Falcons were eliminated by two losses to Ketchikan with the second coming Thursday night. Coach Andy Lee said he’s proud of the way his team played.

“We played extremely well,” Lee said. “They played well. It was a really good, classic Southeast basketball game.”

[Crosstown matchup finishes girls teams’ regular seasons]

Lee said he was pleased by the development of his team over the course of the season and excited to see what the deep team can do moving forward.

He said he’s looking forward to some sort of practice or developmental camp, but he is unsure when those will happen because of virus-related cancellations. However, the long-term future of the team seems bright, Lee said.

“In the very first quarter of the very first game, we played 10 players, and that’s been our mantra all season,” Lee said. “Now, we’re returning eight lettermen, and that’s key. Now, we’ve put ourselves in a better position to compete at a championship level next year.”

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

Courtesy Photos | Heather Holt
                                TMHS’ Bryson Echiverri drives toward the hoop and is closely defended by JDHS’ Tad Watson in the Region V 4A championship game Friday at JDHS.

Courtesy Photos | Heather Holt TMHS’ Bryson Echiverri drives toward the hoop and is closely defended by JDHS’ Tad Watson in the Region V 4A championship game Friday at JDHS.

Thunder Mountain High School boys basketball coaches and players hold their medals and plaque after winning the Region V 4A championship. (Courtesy Photo | Heather Holt)

Thunder Mountain High School boys basketball coaches and players hold their medals and plaque after winning the Region V 4A championship. (Courtesy Photo | Heather Holt)

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