The Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé boys and girls basketball teams faced off at TMHS on Tuesday with the Falcons coming up big with wins for both the girls and boys team.
Tuesday night was also senior night where seniors from the dance squads, pep band and the teams were honored in a halftime ceremony. It was also announced that longtime TMHS assistant coach Arnold Ibias will retire at the end of the school year.
The boys game was undecided until its final moments, but a tightly defended buzzer-beater from junior Thomas Baxter broke a 62-all tie and put TMHS over the top.
With games between the two schools often coming down to the last possession, TMHS boys head coach John Blasco said the deciding factor for his team was staying focused from start to finish.
“We had a slow start to that third quarter, they started coming out with that pressure again and it wasn’t until we started to move the ball a little bit better and attack a little bit harder that we found our flow in the second half,” Blasco said. “They were tough, though, we gave up a 7-point lead in 30 seconds in that fourth quarter. Those guys are so tough, Alwen (Carrillo), OJ (Orion Dybdahl), Sean (Oliver) and the rest of them. We gotta clean that up and not have so many turnovers with their pressure late in the game.”
JDHS senior Orion Dybdahl led the night in scores for both teams for a total of 22 points with TMHS’ Baxter not far behind with 19.
TMHS senior MJ Tupou had an especially productive night with 9-points, one of those being a crucial 3-point shot made in the fourth quarter. Tupou said while individual attention is nice, in his opinion, every win comes down to a simple matter of team effort.
“I just love the team, everytime we’re all doing good then I’m doing good,” Tupou said. “That’s basically it, when James is doing good or Sam or Lance or anybody, then I’m at my best, too. I think that’s how we’ve been all season, when somebody does good, the whole team does good, so I think that what I take away the most from this game, team effort.”
The cross-town teams have now played three times, with the Crimson Bears besting the Falcons in two of the match ups.
That dramatic game followed a close battle between the TMHS and JDHS girls.
That contest resembled many past matchups between the two teams with neck-and-neck scores at the end of each quarter, but the Falcons held on for a 47-42 win. TMHS sophomore Kerra Baxter led the night in scoring for both teams with 21 points and JDHS senior Skylar Tuckwood followed with 16 pts.
The TMHS girls have won their first three games against JDHS this year and each game has been exceptionally close.
TMHS girls now sit at 16-7 and 5-2 in conference with JDHS at 14-9 AND 3-4 in conference. TMHS boys are 8-15 and 3-4 in conference with JDHS at 15-9 and 5-2 in conference. But all those records are certain to change in the near future.
All four Juneau high school basketball teams will play Thursday night for another pair of senior night games, but held at JDHS.
The girls are scheduled to tip off at 5:15 p.m. and the boys at 7:15 p.m.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com.