Juneau-Douglas’ Israel Yadao, right, drives against Ketchikan’s Marcus Lee at JDHS during a conference win last February. Lee earned first team all-state honors last season. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau-Douglas’ Israel Yadao, right, drives against Ketchikan’s Marcus Lee at JDHS during a conference win last February. Lee earned first team all-state honors last season. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Tough competition for Falcon, Crimson Bear hoopsters

First game is Thursday night at JDHS

Two of the hottest basketball teams in the state are paying visits to Juneau this weekend.

The Colony Knights and Ketchikan Kings boys basketball teams arrive to town each with just a single loss on their respective seasons. The Knights, the No. 1 4A team in a recent statewide poll, lost to Dimond last month in an Arizona tournament. The Kings, who have yet to crack the polls, fell to Wasilla in a season-opening home series Dec. 15. The other 13 games have all been wins.

Juneau-Douglas High School plays Colony on Thursday night at 7 p.m. before gearing up for Southeast Conference games against Ketchikan on Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, across town, the Thunder Mountain boys and girls square off against Colony on their home floor.

Here’s a look at all three series:

Thunder Mountain boys (6-4) vs. Colony (8-1), Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 6:45 p.m., Thunderdome

Colony basically shut down all but one Falcons player in a win last Friday. Thunder Mountain junior Brady Carandang put in a cool 18 points, but all other Falcons were limited to six or fewer points. Carandang hopes to have another strong performance in him this weekend.

“Since we’re on our home floor, a lot more energy from our crowd should help,” Carandang said. “We’re practicing for them three days straight, so hopefully it will be close game, closer this time.”

This matchup came on the second day of the Mt. McKinley Bank Holiday Classic at Monroe Catholic High School in Fairbanks. The Knights took their second tournament title in three weeks when they defeated host Monroe Catholic on Saturday.

The Knights boast two elite level scorers in senior Sullivan Menard and sophomore Patrick McMahon.

“They’re smooth, they’re patient and they’re effective,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “What I mean by that is they’re never in a rush, they always got their feet and their bodies in good positions and they know how to create opportunities to score.”

Juneau-Douglas boys (4-3) vs. Ketchikan (5-1), Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., JDHS gym

JDHS won one out of four games at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas before making a clean sweep of the Princess Cruises Capital City Classic, which they had less than a week to prepare for. The quick turnaround surprised even the team’s coach.

“A lot of that is our younger guys are growing and improving quickly,” coach Robert Casperson said. “We are improving probably faster than I had anticipated, which is great. We have a lot of room to grow and to keep getting better, but where we are right now, we’re probably ahead of the pace that I would’ve anticipated.”

No one stood out more than JDHS senior Israel Yadao in the Capital City Classic. Yadao, who was named the boys tournament MVP, could be a difference maker against the Kings. The 5-foot-8 floor general is exceptionally quick, which is exactly how the Ketchikan Kings and senior all-state guard Marcus Lee like to play.

“They didn’t have any seniors last year so pretty much their whole team is back,” Yadao said. “I feel like they’re going to be strong, they’re going to be a tough team, probably the toughest between our region: JD, TM and Ketchikan. Marcus can score at anytime.”

JDHS went 2-2 in the regular season and 2-1 in postseason against Ketchikan last year.

Thunder Mountain girls (6-3) vs. Colony (4-2), Friday 6:15 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m., Thunderdome (TMHS gym)

The TMHS girls are coming off a fifth-place showing two weeks ago in the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic in Ketchikan.

The Falcons began the season red hot, winning five out of their first six games, but cooled off a tad in the Ketchikan tournament. After winning a close 38-33 contest over Chino, Thunder Mountain lost by double digits to Soldotna and Ketchikan. Senior Nina Fenumiai said the Falcons used their bye week to sharpen their game.

“We’ve been going pretty intense in practices and preparing for the rest of the season,” Fenumiai said. “We really don’t like losing, so we’re ready to win again.”

The Colony girls were the runner-up in the Mt. McKinley Bank Holiday Classic last weekend, when they endured just their second loss of the season against Lathrop in the tournament opener.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


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Thunder Mountain High School’s Kamron Falls dribbles around a screen by Meki Toutaiolepo in their game against Cleveland High School, of Seattle, in the Tournament of Champions in Seattle on Thursday Dec. 27, 2018. (Courtesy Photo | Patrick Krohn Photography)

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