Juneau-Douglas outlasts Kayhi
- By RICHARD LARSON Daily News Sports Editor
The Juneau-Douglas: Yadaa.at Kalé boys basketball team clinched the top seed in the Region V tournament with a gritty 57-51 win over Ketchikan on Saturday, spoiling Senior Night for the Kings at the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.
A day after watching the Kayhi offense click in the second half of a 71-52 Kings win on Friday, the Crimson Bears largely disrupted the flow of the Kings on Saturday in front of a full house there to watch the final home games of Kayhi seniors JJ Parker, Joeben Lorenzo, Archie Dundas and Jack Zink.
“Mostly we just communicated better on defense, we just stepped up on defense,” Juneau guard Alwen Carrillo said. “We kind of know what they want to do. We know they like to shoot 3s. We just had to step up a little bit.”
The Crimson Bears (15-8 overall) improved to 5-1 in the conference with the win, earning the top seed and a first-round bye in the Region V tournament that starts March 8 at Thunder Mountain. Ketchikan (12-11, 3-5) will face Thunder Mountain (7-18, 2-4) in the tournament opener with the No. 2 and 3 seeds to be decided by how Thunder Mountain fares against Juneau when they meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“If feels good to clinch the first seed, but there are still two great teams out there in our region that we have to play against,” Carrillo said. “We are definitely going to have to get better in the weeks we have left. As for tonight, we won a hard-fought battle, but it still feels like we have work to do.”
Kayhi owns the two biggest victory margins in conference play — Friday’s 19-point win over Juneau and a 58-41 win over Thunder Mountain on Feb. 18. All of the other conference games have been decided late in the fourth quarter.
Juneau’s five conference wins have been by a total of 19 points (the same margin as their one loss), but the team has found a way to win. Three times the Crimson Bears have overcome double-digit, fourth-quarter deficits, and twice they hit their free throws late to hold on for wins against the Kings.
“It’s no small undertaking to (get the one seed),” Juneau assistant coach John Sleppy said. “Ketchikan is a good team. They are going to be hard to beat in regions, but we’ll give our best.”
The Crimson Bears led by eight late in the third quarter, but the Kings cut the deficit to a single point on three occasions in the fourth quarter. Kayhi had possession a couple of times with a chance to take the lead, but was unable to get the necessary score. Juneau went 5 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds to close out the win.
“We were a couple of plays short of what we needed to finish on the right end of it, but that’s basketball,” Kayhi coach Eric Stockhausen said. “We battled. We grinded. We showed toughness and grit. Yesterday was fun because everything was flowing well. Today was a little more difficult. We didn’t give up. We gave ourselves some good opportunities and still had a chance. Give credit to Juneau. They played well. Their big three again are showing why they are very tough.”
The Crimson Bears‘ top three players of junior guard Carrillo, senior forward Orion Dybdahl, and junior guard Sean Oliver combined for 50 of Juneau’s 57 points. Carillo led the way with 20 points. Dybdahl and Oliver each finished with 15.
Following a senior night presentation, the Kings started their four seniors and junior Jared Rhoads on Saturday. It wasn’t just a token start for the seniors, as they played together for more than four minutes before the first Kayhi substitution.
A pair of 3-pointers by Dundas gave Kayhi a 23-14 lead in the second quarter, but the Kings were unable to continue the momentum. Juneau finished the first half on a 13-2 run, holding the Kings to a single field goal, a tough inside shot by Rhoads, over the final five minutes of the quarter.
“The kids are all about doing their best. They knew they let themselves down yesterday,” Sleppy said. “They didn’t feel like they gave their best effort yesterday. Today they did. We made some changes. The kids said most of the stuff. It’s a player-run team. I’m just the custodian.”
The Kings continued to look out of rhythm in the second half and were down 44-36 after a layup from Oliver late in the third quarter.
Kayhi battled back and appeared as though it might pull out a victory despite not playing its sharpest.
A spinning drive down the lane for a layup by Marcus Stockhausen finished off the third quarter and Parker started off the fourth with a 3-pointer that cut the lead to 44-41.
A pair of free throws from Lorenzo cut the lead to 44-43 with over five minutes left to play.
Baskets from Rhoads and Parker later in the quarter again brought the Kings within a point, but Juneau had a response for each Kayhi surge and held on for the win. Ketchikan ended the season with a 9-4 home record.
“It was a good team win,” Sleppy said. “It is always nice coming here. We like the facility, but it is tough playing here.”
Road teams almost always far better in the second day of two-game series in the Southeast. Ketchikan was 6-0 in the first-game of either a series or a tournament at home and 3-4 in the remaining games (including losses the second and third nights at the Clarke Cochrane). In conference play, the Kings were 2-0 on Friday and 0-2 on Saturday at home. On the road, the Kings lost both conference games on Friday, then posted a 17-point win over Thunder Mountain in their Saturday meeting and had a 20-point lead over Juneau in their Saturday road game before suffering a shocking loss.
“Traveling is very difficult in the Southeast,” Stockhausen said. “It is easier to play games at home on a Friday because you have a set routine and a normal schedule while the other team is traveling. On Saturday (the home team) is lying around watching TV and putting your body at rest, while the road team usually has a more regimented schedule.”
The Senior Night festivities, while important for the players and their families, also throw off the normal pre-game timing.
“Any time you change something from your normal routine, it affects you,” Stockhausen said. “You add a whole bunch of excitement and an extra 20-minute (ceremony), it just adds a different layer that we’re not used to. It’s not something that you can really prepare for.”
Marcus Stockhausen led the Kings with 13 points. Joeben Lorenzo added 12, and Rhoads scored 10.
Parker finished with seven points, all in the fourth quarter, and Dundas had six with his pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter.
The Kings only hit seven 3-pointers, which is below their season average, and were 2 of 6 from the free-throw line. Juneau went 11 for 14 from the line, including 7 of 10 in the fourth quarter.
“If you don’t shoot well, don’t defend well, don’t take care of the ball, all of those things matter when you are playing against an opponent that made their free throws and that got big offensive rebounds,” coach Stockhausen said. “Give Juneau credit, but I still feel the same way about my team that I felt 24 hours ago. We still have things to learn. We are getting better every day and we are competing. If your shots are going in, it is more fun. When they don’t, it’s more frustrating.”
Kayhi is off until the start of the region tournament on March 8. Despite Saturday’s result, it still looks like any of the three Southeast teams could win the region.
“The people I talk to say the only thing that truly matters is what you do in March,” Stockhausen said. “I am confident that this group will stay together, analyze what we have to do to get better, and work hard for it. If that is enough, great. If not, we’ll have nothing to hang our heads about.”