Both of Juneau’s boys high school basketball teams learned the same lesson on Saturday night.
The precept — play hard the entire 32 minutes of the game — was just a much less painful one for Juneau-Douglas High School to absorb than their crosstown rivals.
JDHS outscored Thunder Mountain by 16 points in the final quarter to secure a 60-54 home win and split the Southeast Conference series with the Falcons. TMHS won 67-63 on Friday.
“Both teams had some runs in them, and we ended up saving our best for last,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “They outscored us 21-11 in the third and then we got them 22-6 in the fourth. That’s a major change.”
JDHS’ Cooper Kriegmont, Krishant Samtani and Philip Gonzales combined for 39 points. The sophomore and two seniors were the catalysts behind the fourth quarter surge. Gonzales — who knocked down six 3-pointers on Friday — scored 10 points inside the arc. Kriegmont and Samtani shot a combined 15 of 16 from the foul line, including 8 of 8 in the final period.
“I don’t think like we played with the poise down the stretch that we needed to close out a win,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “They started pressing us, and we started playing at a pace that wasn’t what we wanted to finish out a game.”
TMHS junior Bryson Echiverri had 16 points and Puna Toutaiolepo scored 12 points in the loss.
The Falcons were clicking in the third quarter as 60-foot passes turned into layups. Sophomore Meki Toutaiolepo scored on one such play to put TMHS up 44-31 with 2:10 remaining the frame.
TMHS led 48-38 at the end of the period.
Kriegmont and Samtani took charge of the fourth quarter right away. Kriegmont picked up four points and a block to put the Falcons on their heels. Samtani’s 3 cut the lead to 48-45 with 6:00 left.
“I felt a lot more loose today,” Kriegmont said. “I don’t know what it was yesterday but today I just felt like I knew what I was doing. I had the confidence of the team behind me. We were pushing the ball, getting fastbreak buckets.”
TMHS brought their lead back up to six before JDHS started another run. Kriegmont and Israel Yadao knocked down free throws, Yadao converted a tough layup and Samtani added two more free throws.
“We all kept our heads (held) high, we just wanted to get that win,” Yadao said.
Then, with about two minutes to go, Gonzales sunk a go-ahead jumper, setting the crowd ablaze.
Sophomore Brock McCormick followed it up with a big shot of his own. The 5-foot-11 swingman buried a 3 in the corner to put the Crimson Bears up for good.
“I just shot it, tried to boost my confidence up, and everyone started to make free throws after that,” McCormick said. “We beat a good team.”
Pusich leads JDHS past Sitka
Caitlin Pusich scored 22 second-half points to carry JDHS win a 50-44 win over Sitka.
JDHS, in its second game without starting guard Alyxn Bohulano, received 12 points from Sadie Tuckwood and five apiece from Trinity Jackson and Skylar Hickok.
Sitka senior forward Abby Forrester scored 12 points and freshman Chloe Morrison had 12 points.
The JDHS boys, JDHS girls and TMHS girls all play conference games next weekend. After playing Service at 7 p.m. Thursday, the boys travel to Ketchikan to take on the Kings. Tipoff Friday and Saturday is at 7:15 p.m. and the games can be streamed at kgbsd.org/live.
“The conference seems to be so evenly balanced this year,” said Casperson, whose team split with Kayhi earlier this season. “It’s going to come down to who’s able to stay focused for 32 minutes, and who’s really willing to gut it out.”
The JDHS and TMHS girls play one another at 6:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Both games will be played at the TMHS main gym.
Finally, the TMHS boys host Service for nonconference games Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. By the regular season’s end, the Falcons will have played 26 games with no weekends off, according to Blasco.
“That’s hard on kids,” he said. “You only have a few days of practice, your bodies are tired, your minds are tired. You have to find ways to keep the kids motivated and going. This is a challenging season schedule-wise.”