Both of the Juneau high school girls basketball programs have new leaders.
Andy Lee, 60, and Steve Potter, 54, were hired over the offseason as the head coaches at Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé, respectively. This season will hardly be the first time the two men share the same court though— both as members of opposing coaching staffs and teammates.
“Andy and I used to play on the same city league basketball team,” Potter said after school on Tuesday.
The crosstown teams will play each other four times in the coming months: at JDHS on Feb. 14-15 and at TMHS on March 6-7. According to ASAA365, the JDHS girls went 15-10 and TMHS girls went 8-20 last season. The Alaska high school basketball season opens next Wednesday.
Potter replaced George Houston as the head coach of the JDHS boys basketball team in 2006. Five years and five Region V championships later, Potter briefly retired from coaching. He returned to the coaching fold about five years ago, this time with the JDHS girls program.
“Lesslie (Knight) had been making noise about retiring for a while, so I decided I would go and help her just so that the program didn’t have to start over right in the middle of my kid going to school,” said Potter, who has two daughters, Capri, 18, and Kiana, 16. Kiana is a junior this season.
Potter becomes at least the fifth head coach of the JDHS girls basketball team, following in the footsteps of Peg Gwyther, Jim Hamey, Dee Boster and Lesslie Knight. Knight was the most recent coach of the program.
Lee, meanwhile, becomes just the third girls basketball coach in Falcon program history. Tanya Nizich coached the Falcons’ first seven seasons, starting in 2009. Chandler Christensen helmed the program for the last three seasons but moved in the offseason to be closer to family in Oregon.
Lee coached the Sitka High School boys from 2005-2017 and Hutchinson High School in Fairbanks over the last two years. He said he’s prepared to put the work in to turn around a program that he says has lost 28 of their last 30 games against JDHS.
“In my interview, I said, ‘I’m here to build a program, not coach a team,’” Lee said. “If you were here to coach a team, you wouldn’t want this job right now.”
George Houston has known both Potter and Lee for around four decades. The longtime JDHS boys basketball coach and inductee into the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame coached alongside Potter at JDHS and used to work with Lee at summer basketball camps.
“It’s going to make the girls Region V a whole lot different,” Houston said. “They’re both getting coaches that have experience.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.