A certain degree of mental toughness was asked of the Juneau-Douglas girls basketball team in their second game of the Region V Basketball Tournament.
The Crimson Bears were rocked in the final seconds of their Class 4A semifinals loss to Ketchikan on Wednesday. Lady Kings freshman Shaelynn Mendoza’s game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer left the Crimson Bears — and everyone else in the B.J. McGillis Gymnasium at Mt. Edgecumbe High School — stunned.
The Crimson Bears, who could no longer afford a single tournament loss, played Thursday like a team with some unfinished business. Their 60-39 victory over Thunder Mountain early Thursday morning gives them the chance to tend to that business.
“We like another opportunity at Ketchikan,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “We’re not really satisfied with how yesterday turned out. This is how you get it.”
Sadie Tuckwood scored 15 points and Caitlin Pusich, who had 29 in Wednesday’s heartbreaker, had 14 points.
Taz Hauck led the Falcons with 15 points. Senior Charlee Lewis scored 10 points and Khaye Garcia, Nina Fenumiai and Kira Frommherz each had seven points.
“They gave it everything they had, that’s all we could ask for,” TMHS coach Chandler Christensen said. “We came out strong, played really good. But JD just hit some tough shots, got some calls to go their way — things that we can’t help. But the one thing we can help is our effort and these girls didn’t stop and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
The Crimson Bears came out aggressive, recording four points in 20 seconds. But the Falcons weren’t fazed. They took a 10-8 lead midway through the first session by creating havoc with their defense.
Fenumiai put the Falcons up 20-14 two minutes into the second quarter.
But JDHS closed the first half on a momentum-shifting 17-1 run on baskets by Pusich, Tuckwood, Trinity Jackson and others, and led 37-23 at halftime.
“They forced us to play our game, which worked out really well for us,” Potter said. “When you scramble and trap, you have to leave somebody open. They have some smaller players and then we throw (the ball) over the top of those players. Somebody’s always open and we have scoring opportunities.”
Thunder Mountain’s offensive struggles continued in the second half and were outscored 23-16 over the final two quarters.
The Falcons part with senior Fenumiai, the team’s rock and leader for the last three seasons.
“There’s multiple games she’s been playing all game, hasn’t stopped, but she works her butt off,” Christensen said. “When they see her working so hard, they all want to work as hard too. She’s been a great leader for us for four years. We’re sad to see her go but looking forward to see what she does in the future.”
JDHS and Ketchikan play at 11:30 a.m. on Friday.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.