News Archives

Sunday May 21, 2017
A message from Coach Casperson - Juneau Empire by Robert Casperson
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys’ basketball team recently held our end-of-the-season awards banquet. During the celebration, the coaching staff noted how important the community was to our efforts this season. In light of that, we would like to acknowledge the following groups and individuals for their continued support.

The coaching staff wants to extend our gratitude to all the parents/guardians that filled vital roles volunteering this season staffing the Fast Break Club table, running concessions, housing visiting teams, etc. We would like to give a special nod to Keela Kelly and Christina Rich, as they did an amazing job wearing many of these hats in support of the season.

We would also like to acknowledge the support of the community at-large. All those that attended our home games and cheered us on, purchased raffle tickets, and the members of the Fast Break Club and the business banner program provided the necessary financial support to fund our season. In an effort to give back to the community, the members of the Crimson Bears basketball team participated in several community service events, including Juneau Education Association’s Read Across America as guest readers, the Southeast Alaska Food Bank Food Drive as donation collectors, and the Girls on the Run 5K as race support.

We are thankful for our partnership with AWARE, Inc., and for their instrumental guidance and encouragement during our sixth year implementing the Coaching Boys into Men program. One of the goals of this program is to help the members of our team learn how to foster and maintain respectful interactions with their peers. It has had a tremendous impact in our program and our school community.

The coaching staff greatly appreciates the efforts and continued support of the JDHS administration, activities office, teachers and counselors. Specifically; principal Paula Casperson, assistant principal Kim McNamara, athletic director Chad Bentz, and activity assistants Cricket Curtain, Laura Campos, Toni DeSanto and counselors Jennifer Knaggs and Sanaye Thompson.

We also appreciate the media and their coverage of our season. They are vital to keeping our family, friends, and the community informed on our season; thank you Mike Clasby of KINY Radio and Kevin Gullufsen and Nolin Ainsworth at the Juneau Empire.

Awards Banquet

To wrap-up the 2016-17 boys basketball season, the team held an awards banquet. The family, friends, players and coaches in attendance for the two-hour event used the time to reminisce, share stories of the past season and celebrate the senior class as they embark on the next phase of their lives. Larry Johansen of Archipelago Webcasting and AlaskaSports.TV created and donated a highlight film that delighted the crowd.

A focal point of the evening was honoring the accomplishments of the team, such as the Joe T. Classic Championship, Region V Championship and fourth place finish at the state tournament. We also recognized individuals with several awards. Some of the awards are statistical in nature and the players voted on the rest.

The winners for the JV’s special awards, as voted by team members, are as follows:

• The Most Improved: Kobe Hoover

• The Most Inspirational: Jarald Soriano

• The Most Hustle: Lance Fenumiai

• The Best Defense: Austin McCurley

• The Most Valuable Player: Philip Gonzales

The winners for the varsity statistical awards are as follows:

• The Best Passer (most assists): Erik Kelly – 67 assists.

• The Best Rebounder (most rebounds): Erik Kelly – 310 rebounds.

• The Toughness Award (most charges drawn): Bryce Swofford – 11 charges.

• The Marksman (highest 2pt shooting percentage, minimum 50 attempts): Erik Kelly – 59%

• The Deep Threat Marksman (highest 3-point shooting percentage, minimum 30): Ulyx Bohulano – 31%

• The Mr. Clutch (highest free-throw percentage, minimum 35 attempts): Bryce Swofford – 65%

The Varsity special awards, as voted by team members, are as follows:

• The Most Improved: Kasey Watts

• The Most Inspirational: Hunter Beelitz

• The Most Hustle: Bryce Swofford

• The Best Defense: Bryce Swofford

• The Most Valuable Player: Erik Kelly

• Coaches’ award: David Timothy (manager)

The last special award was created decades ago and named for Zach Gordon, due to his commitment to JDHS athletics/activities and to supporting the youth of Juneau. It is awarded to the player that most embodies the ideals and values of Juneau-Douglas basketball on the court, in the classroom and the community. This year, through team member voting, the Zach Gordon Award went to Kolby Hoover.

As a coaching staff, we would be remiss not to mention the leadership and guidance provided by the senior class this season. Senior players Bryce Swofford, Marshall Shapland-Murray, Luis Lozada, Hunter Beelitz, Ulyx Bohulano, Jordan Milligan and managers David Timothy and Alison Ford were a pleasure to work with. We are proud of them for the legacy of hard work, determination and resiliency they have left for the underclassmen to build upon.

Again, thank you Juneau for all your help. Each season is truly a “team” effort that is supported by many. We look forward to our returning and incoming players working hard to improve this off season so JDHS can continue to represent our community in a positive manner.

Sincerely,

JDHS Boys Basketball Coaching Staff:

Robert Casperson, John Sleppy, Ben Kriegmont, and Brice Searles

• Robert Casperson is the head coach of the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team.

Wednesday May 17, 2017
Juneau-Douglas High School Boys Basketball Highlight Film - AlaskaSport.TV by Larry Johansen
     Below is a link to film and photos that share highlights from the boys basketball 2016-17 season. This film was created and donated by Larry Johansen of AlaskaSports.TV

Enjoy the approximately 16 min video and share the link as you wish... Go Bears!

https://app.krossover.com/g/ly68

Sunday April 16, 2017
Talking sports with … Hall of Fame basketball coach George Houston - Alaska Dispatch News by Stephan Weibe
     Former Juneau basketball coach George Houston, 66, is a member of the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches' 2017 Hall of Fame class that was honored during Saturday's AABC all-star games at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. Next week he will be inducted into the Alaska School Activities Association's Hall of Fame.

Houston, who graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1969, spent 32 years on the bench for the Crimson Bears from 1974 to 2006, spending 18 seasons as an assistant and 14 seasons as the head coach. As the head coach, he led Juneau to two straight state championships in 1997-98 and eight Southeast Conference titles from 1993 to 2000.

Houston's career record as a head coach was 278-85. Among the players he coached was Duke and NBA star Carlos Boozer.

Houston retired from teaching and coaching in 2006, but he continues to coach at the middle school and AAU levels.

Q. What's some advice you would give to aspiring coaches?

A. The best line that I heard about coaching came from Pete Newell, who was a legendary coach in college and then coached the 1956 (U.S.) Olympic team. He said, "The first day of coaching is the last day you know it all."

It's about improving. I always tried to follow that mantra. Another one I really like is a quote from (UCLA coach) John Wooden. He said, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

(Coaching) is like a lifelong education. Life is an education in itself and then it's the same thing about coaching and teaching. Take the good from what you see and hear and observe. I think all coaches try to do that.

Q. Carlos Boozer went on to have an incredible basketball career in college and the NBA. What was it like coaching a player of his caliber?

A. For me, I grew up in Juneau and graduated from Juneau High School and then to be named the head coach and to be terrifically lucky to have a kid like him come through was awesome. And it's not just his basketball ability — he was a great kid too. He was a really talented basketball player but he was an even better person.

We had the target on our back, particularly his senior year, and he did not disappoint. I think he averaged 28 points a game and 14 rebounds and shot high 50s.

When we went to Sitka and Ketchikan for the final regular-season series, they set up a table and he sat after the game and signed autographs and signed basketballs and signed hats for I don't even know how long, but it went on forever it seemed like. He was really gracious about it. He was a talented player but he was also a really good guy and people appreciated that.

Q. What's something people might not know about Boozer?

A. … I think I remember his mom saying when he was a freshman he wasn't going to be eligible to play unless he pulled a 3.0 (GPA). That got me worried a little bit but luckily he was a good enough student that he was able to do that. With his mom and dad, academics were going to come first. I would very much encourage him to do all the work necessary and even a bit more.

Q. Do you still stay in touch with him?

A. We're good friends. He's come to Juneau a few times and I've gone down and watched him play when he was in Utah (with the Jazz) and when he was in Chicago (with the Bulls). He gave me a Chicago jersey one year 'cause I'm always offering little coaching suggestions to him, and he said, "Coach, you're one of my best friends ever even if you still try to coach me."

Q. One famous story about you involves you getting part of the old Juneau gym floor as a table for your house. Do you still have that?

A. Actually I don't. In the last year I gave it back to the school. What it is is the original center jump circle that went in in 1956. A friend of mine, former assistant Pat Kemp … made it into a table for me and I had it in my dining room for 40 years. Then I decided it was time to send it back home. I think they're going to turn into a plaque in the gym.

It went home. It belongs down there. That's where it started.

Q. What is it about coaching that has kept you doing it for more than four decades?

A. For me, especially for the (high school) teams I coached and individual players, was watching their improvement and progression throughout their career. Watching how they would improve as players physically but also in the mental side of the game and go into being young adults.

Q. What is your favorite memory of Juneau's battles with East in the '70s, '80s and '90s?

A. The games that really stick out, 'cause they didn't really happen often, was when we were able to beat East. Any time we played them it was a big game. We just kept battling and sometimes we were successful and sometimes we weren't. And it wasn't just East. Our own region with Sitka and Ketchikan and teams up north that we ended up playing.

Q. Eighteen years is a long time to be an assistant coach. What kept you in Juneau all those years?

A. When I was the assistant coach for Jim Hamey, he allowed me to do a lot of the coaching and a lot of the preparation for opponents and stuff. He allowed me to develop as a coach. That was really important because when he decided to step down, I was ready and I had enough experience to be ready. If I had done it early I might not have been ready.

Q. Did you ever look at other jobs?

A. A couple times I had heard different stuff and I kind of put out my name a little bit to Sitka and Ketchikan and it didn't really feel right. Juneau is my home, my family is here, I grew up here. I'm kind of a local yokel I guess.

Q. How have you seen basketball in Alaska change over the decades?

A. It's kind of grown with the game, with how it's growing nationally and internationally. The advent of a 3-point line was a huge change. We're still seeing more and more of how that's (impacting the game), particularly at the highest level.

Some of the things I see in basketball are not good from a team aspect. Sometimes now I think it emphasizes the individual and 1-on-1 type stuff instead of a team and a unit.

Q. What's something you remember about winning a state championship as a player in 1969?

A. I hadn't played on varsity until my senior year and that year I was the third guard. The thing that sticks out to me is when we went and played the Southeast tournament in Sitka and I absolutely sucked in three games. I didn't even play in the championship game, I was playing so badly.

We won against Sitka by six points to go to state (and) we ended up playing Lathrop for the state championship. It was two-out-of-three back then. We ended up winning the first game and the second game we weren't playing very well and coach put me in and we ended up winning in overtime. I ended up playing a whole lot better in the state tournament than I played in (the Southeast Conference).

Q. Anything else you'd like to mention about your career as a coach?

A. The only thing for me is to me it's not just about Carlos, and he would tell you the same thing. He played with some really good players and through the course of my career I got to work with some really good players and some really good kids.

There are a number of them that still live in Juneau and they're successful in whatever career they've gone into. To me that's more gratifying than what they did on the basketball court.

Q. What were you thinking last year when Juneau won the state title for the first time since you were its coach?

A. I didn't want to put the whammy on them (by) showing up. I'm glad I didn't because I probably would have had a heart attack, after watching some of those games on tape.

Some of those kids on that team, I worked with them as eighth-graders, so that was particularly cool that they were able to go on and win the championship.

Particularly with coach (Robert) Casperson, the head coach, it was cool for me 'cause his dad was my JV coach … when I was a junior at Juneau-Douglas. Then coach Casperson played for me and graduated in '96. To have him move up and be the head coach and be successful and win a state championship was really cool.

This interview is part of a series of conversations with Alaska athletes and sports figures. Portions were edited for length or clarity.

Wednesday April 12, 2017
Coach Houston is a Hall of Famer!
     Former longtime Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball coach, George Houston, has been selected to become a member of the of the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Coach Houston was born and raised in Juneau. As a player at JDHS, he was a contributing member of Crimson Bears' state championship team in 1969. After high school, Houston attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he was on the team for three seasons. While in Fairbanks, Coach Houston began working with Lathrop High School as an assistant coach in the boys basketball program. After graduating from UAF, Houston returned to his home to become a P.E. teacher. Upon that time, he was also named the junior varsity coach at JDHS. After 18 years as JV coach, Houston assumed the head coaching position in 1992.

Coach Houston was the head coach of the Crimson Bears for fourteen seasons. His success as the head coach of his alma mater was quite impressive. During his 14 years at the helm, his teams posted 13 winning season, including 9 seasons with 20+ wins, for a career win-loss record of 279-85. During that time his teams won 11 conference championships, 11 Region V championships, and back-to-back ASAA 4A boys basketball state championships (1997 and 1998). Coach Houston was named Alaska's Coach of the Year three times and during his tenure as head coach, his teams finished out of the top five in the state once.

He will be inducted to the AABC Hall of Fame on April 14th along with another standout in Alaska high school basketball, East Anchorage High School's Trajan Langdon.

Tuesday March 21, 2017
Crimson Bears ready for another state tournament run - Juneau Empire by Nolin Ainsworth
     East Anchorage up first

Seven extra losses against 4A schools and seven new varsity players are just two ways this season has proven different than last for the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team.

However, they both share a trip to the March Madness Alaska 4A Boys Championships in Anchorage.

The Crimson Bears (16-10) play the East Anchorage Thunderbirds (22-4) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the tournament.

It’ll be JDHS’ third trip outside of Southeast Alaska this season after playing seven games over 10 days on back-to-back weekend roadtrips.

Both teams will be plenty rested — the Crimson Bears and Thunderbirds’ last respective games came on March 11 when JDHS won over Ketchikan in the Southeast Conference Championship and East Anchorage lost to Dimond in the Cook Inlet Conference Championship. According to JDHS coach Robert Casperson, the team is in good spirits, having mapped a way back to Anchorage via a dramatic run through the Region V (SE Conference) tournament.

“The guys are feeling great about that because they know that when you get to state, you have a chance, and that’s all they wanted, they wanted to have a chance,” Casperson said last week.

Despite winning five of their last six regular season games, few could have expected JDHS’ valiant run at the Region V tournament. After dropping a first round game to Thunder Mountain High School, the Crimson Bears went 3-0, allowing an average of just 51 points during those wins.

If JDHS can replicate those defensive showings on the big stage against East Anchorage, opponents better look out.

“One of the things that we had to contend with here was the strength of our conference opponents’ guards,” Casperson said, alluding to Marcus Lee and Jake Smith of Ketchikan, and Chase Saviers and Noah Reishus-O’Brien of Thunder Mountain.

Casperson said those guards are a taste of East Anchorage’s all-state backcourt of Moses Miller and Trey Huckabay.

“We know they are very dynamic but we also know that our work here in conference and the region helped hopefully to prepare us for this type of challenge,” he said.

Going toe-to-toe with such high-caliber athletes excites junior Kasey Watts.

“I always like being the underdog, because you come in, you really have nothing to worry about,” Watts said. “If you’re the top dog, you know you can’t lose or else people will hate on you.”

As one of the seven players on last year’s state championship squad, Jordan Milligan is helping teammates like Watts prepare for the ‘madness’ that awaits in Anchorage.

“It’s pretty cool to share some of the experiences I’ve had with the newer guys and the younger guys so they can learn from it and have a good time up there,” he said.

A win Thursday could set up a 2016 state championship rematch with Dimond in the second round. A loss and the best the Crimson Bears can place is fourth.

In other first round games, Ketchikan plays Bartlett while top seed Wasilla contends with Kodiak in a rematch of the Northern Lights Conference championship.

Tuesday March 14, 2017
JDHS defeats Ketchikan 60-56 in Region V championship - Juneau Empire by Nolin Ainsworth
     Kelly and Swofford deny Kings Region V championship

It was a SportsCenter Top 10-like play and the Juneau-Douglas High School basketball fans loved every second of it.

Early in the fourth quarter of the 4A Boys Region V Championship Saturday night between JDHS and Ketchikan, senior Jordan Milligan stole and dished the ball to Bryce Swofford at the free throw line, who then wristed a behind-the-back pass to a cutting Kasey Watts for two points.

The score was part of a 10-2 JDHS run between the third and fourth quarters, a stretch which secured the Crimson Bears 60-56 win over Ketchikan for their second consecutive 4A Boys Region V championship.

“I really didn’t want to see someone [else] cut down the net at home,” said Swofford, a 6-foot-7 senior who finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Erik Kelly scored 18 points and hauled down 13 rebounds — including six offensive —while shooting 8-for-14 from the foul line.

“There was no doubt in my mind they were going to give us everything they had,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “No matter the outcome, I knew that effort wasn’t going to be an issue at this tournament.”

Marcus Lee (12 points) scored transition layups and Jake Smith (22) made four 3-pointers, but JDHS subdued the other pieces of Ketchikan’s offense. Brent Taylor and Chris Lee scored six and five points respectively.

It was a long tournament for the host Crimson Bears, and featured only one scenario in which JDHS would return to the state tournament: win three straight games.

After falling to Thunder Mountain on Tuesday, the Crimson Bears beat the Falcons in a rematch Thursday (60-47) before beating Ketchikan by just four points respectively on Friday (55-51) and Saturday.

“Not a lot of people outside of this lockerroom or these four gym walls would of ever expected that this year,” Casperson said of returning to the state tournament. “But the boys did and they believed, and they knew that we would have to work hard to get there.”

“You just love when you preach to the kids that hard work and dedication are going to pay off and then it does for them. It doesn’t seem like a hollow commentary on their activities — it ends up being true for them — so I’m really proud of the guys, and the effort they put forth.”

The nifty, behind-the-back Swofford-to-Watts connection put the Crimson Bears up 45-37 with seven minutes left in the game.

The Kings ‘big three’ of Marcus Lee, Taylor and Smith responded, though: Taylor with a 3-point play, Smith with a putback and Lee with a jumper, cutting the JDHS lead to 51-50 with 2:45 remaining.

However, JDHS pushed the lead back to five a minute later with baskets from Swofford and Kolby Hoover. The Crimson Bears shot 5-for-7 from the free throw line in the final minute to maintain the lead and capture the Region V trophy.

“I feel like we are peaking at the right time of the year,” Casperson said. “We didn’t need to be playing our best basketball in December, we want to be here in March playing our best ball and I feel like that’s what were doing.”

Sunday March 12, 2017
Region V Champions!
     The boys made history this weekend by becoming the first 4A school in Region V history to come back through the losers bracket and win the championship. After suffering a defeat to the Thunder Mountain Falcons in the first 4A game of the tournament, the Crimson Bears went to the losers bracket to regroup. The second game of the tournament for the Crimson Bears was also against Thunder Mountain (after they lost to the Ketchikan Kings) in a loser-out contest. After a tough game with Thunder Mountain, the Bears emerged victorious, ending the Falcon's season. Waiting for the Bears in the championship game were the Ketchikan Kings. The Bears won the game against the Kings to force the "if necessary" game, in a winner take all Region V Championship. And for the Bears, a loss would me the end of the season. The Crimson Bears defeated the Kings 60-56 to win the Region V 4A Boys Championship and the automatic berth to represent the conference in the ASAA State Championships.

Saturday March 11, 2017
JDHS One Win Away from Second Consecutive Region V Championship - Juneau Empire by Nolin Ainsworth
     Two hours, five minutes of game time.

106 total points.

51 total fouls.

Five players fouled out of the game.

And 1.5 seconds that took 20 minutes to elapse due to the JDHS gym lights turning off.

The circumstances couldn’t have been any stranger — or satisfying — Friday night for the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears boys basketball team. Facing elimination from the 4A Boys Region V tournament, the Crimson Bears came back from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to win in overtime, 55-51, over the Ketchikan Kings.

JDHS can win its second consecutive Region V championship with a win Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at JDHS. The rematch will be JDHS’ fourth game in five days, having worked its way out of the loser’s bracket with a win over Thunder Mountain Thursday.

Erik Kelly and Bryce Swofford combined for 30 points to extend their season at least one more game. Ulyx Bohulano and Kolby Hoover limited Ketchikan’s dynamic Marcus and Chris Lee to 11 and four points respectively.

“Ulyx has stepped up huge for us on both sides of the ball,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “He is playing very solid defense on very difficult players with some great offensive capabilities.”

“Kolby is just relishing this opportunity to let his defense create some offensive opportunities for him,” Casperson added. “It’s impressive.”

After four lead changes in the third quarter, Ketchikan established the lead for all but 51 seconds in the fourth quarter. After sitting in the third quarter with four fouls, Bryce Swofford checked in to begin the fourth, scoring eight of the Crimson Bears’ next 11 points.

Trailing by four with under two minutes to go, Swofford caught the ball at the top of the key and drove past Ketchikan’s Robert Seludo before laying the ball up for two and a foul.

Swofford missed the free throw and Seludo went to the line 12 seconds later for two foul shots, missing both (Ketchikan was in the double bonus).

After a Swofford miss, Kasey Watts drew a foul and made one of two free throws.

Marcus Lee’s layup attempt was swatted away by Erik Kelly, who tied the game at 46-46 with 51.8 seconds left by making one of two free throws.

Kayhi came out of a timeout and cycled the ball around the perimeter for 29 seconds before taking another timeout with 18.7 seconds remaining, when three-point specialist Kristian Pihl checked in to the game.

The 5-foot-7 freshman’s clean 3-point look with eight seconds remaining fell short, however. Swofford got the rebound and fed the ball to Ulyx Bohulano, who lost the ball at half-court, just after Casperson called a timeout with 1.5 seconds remaining.

Then things got weird.

During the timeout, all the lights in the gym went out, and after two two tries, slowly came back on. After 20 minutes of darkness or near-darkness and an impromptu shoot-around for both teams, Luke Mallinger was too strong on his inbound lob to Swofford, sending the game to overtime.

Ketchikan turned the ball over three consecutive times in overtime, and two Bohulano free throws gave JDHS a 52-48 lead with 28 seconds remaining.

After making a 3-pointer with 14.3 seconds remaining, Kayhi’s Jake Smith couldn’t convert two free throws to tie the game at 53.

“Never been involved in a game when the lights go out,” said Casperson.

“We have a rule in our program called the midnight rule, so you only get to enjoy a win or [dwell on a loss] until midnight. And so someone pointed out that it was already 11:45 and there’s not a lot of time for the boys to enjoy this before they got to turn their minds and focus again on playing tomorrow.”

Sunday February 05, 2017
Unlikely hero hits last-second shot in Juneau’s homecoming heartbreaker - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Down 47-48 with 10 seconds left, Thunder Mountain High School basketball held possession at half court. It was homecoming for the defending state champion Crimson Bears; each student section packed with blue and white on one side, red and black on the other.

TMHS coach John Blasco called a timeout and drew up a play. To nobody’s surprise, the Falcons wanted to find hot-handed senior Noah Reishus-O’Brien for the game-winner. The shooting guard led the game with 27 points, carrying his team in an offensive duel with JDHS big man Erik Kelly.

If anyone was going to pull off the upset for the Falcons, it was Reishus-O’Brien, who had never beaten the Crimson Bears as a starter. He was hungry, as were the rest of the Falcons, all having endured six losses to their crosstown rivals last year.

Whatever play the Falcons had drawn up, it fell apart. Senior Chase Saviers drove the lane off a Garth Tupou screen but was turned away, electing to kick the ball back out to Tupou.

Tupou wasn’t their first, second or third choice to take that shot. He might have not even been their fourth or fifth, but it didn’t matter: Tupou’s flat-footed 15-footer rattled around the rim and in, sealing the upset win for the Falcons.

TMHS students rushed the floor. The workmanlike rebounder and defender was the star of the game.

“I guess Noah was supposed to take the shot, but I just grabbed it and threw it up, hoping it would go in,” Tupou said. “I felt excited, happy that I had gotten that done.”

Reishus-O’Brien didn’t care who took the shot, he was just happy to get a win over a team that, until Friday, had had the Falcons’ number.

“This is my first time actually starting, playing a lot and actually beating JD. Last year was a tough year with them. This means a lot, it’s big,” he said.

After Tupou’s game-winner, the officiating crew decided to put a little bit of time back on the clock, determining that JDHS had gotten a timeout call in with just a few tenths of a second left.

The extra time didn’t amount to anything; Tupou, Reishus-O’Brien and the Falcons had the victory they badly needed.

“What I had drawn up didn’t work, to be honest,” Blasco said after the game. “The ball didn’t get to where we wanted to, but Chase knew we needed to penetrate the rim and get them to collapse, and Garth was open for the mid-range jumper, which I am just thankful he hit. I think it hit every side of the rim.”

Blasco said the game was a “big confidence booster” against a “very good JDHS team.” He said he didn’t have much to do with the win and was just happy for his guys, especially Tupou.

“He’s one of those kids who every day in practice gives it all he’s got,” Blasco said. “He never complains. He’s a great teammate. … For him to hit that, I couldn’t be happier for him.”

The game as it led up to that moment lived up to its billing. JDHS owned the glass, but TMHS hit the shots they needed to stay with their much taller opponents.

On offense, Kelly (22 points) and Reishus-O’Brien went head-to-head, trading buckets in a game that saw 12 lead changes before it was over. No player outside of those two scored more than seven points as the pair combined for 49, over half of all scoring on the night.

JDHS coach Robert Casperson said his team “has all the pieces,” but having lost the first three of their eight conference games, “just can’t put the puzzle together.” The Crimson Bears used their height well, but couldn’t execute on offense.

Rebounds “should be a given” with JDHS’ height advantage, Casperson elaborated, but they haven’t been able to take advantage on offense.

“It’s gotta be what we do with our possessions that we get out of those. … If we get a defensive rebound and miss the bucket, you know, what’s the point? So we are creating more possessions for ourselves, but it’s what we do with them.”

JDHS and TMHS play again Saturday. Look for coverage of that game at juneauempire.com and in Tuesday’s print edition.

CRIMSON BEARS 48, FALCONS 49

Juneau-Douglas 14 16 8 10 —48

Thunder Mountain 17 12 10 10 —49

Juneau-Douglas (48) — Kelly 22, Hoover 6, Bohulano 5, Swofford 4, Lozada 4, Hamrick 3, Watts 2, Milligan 2

Thunder Mountain (49) — Reishus-O’Brien 27, Saviers 7, G. Tupou 5, McAndrews 4, Morris 3, R. Tupou 2, V. Toutaiolepo 1

Free throws — Juneau-Douglas 8-18, Thunder Mountain 7-16

3-point goals — Juneau-Douglas 2, Thunder Mountain 6 Team fouls — Juneau-Douglas 14, Thunder Mountain 21

Tuesday January 31, 2017
JDHS boys end rough basketball weekend with another loss in Ketchikan - Juneau Empire by Larry Johansen
     Saturday’s rematch between the Juneau Douglas Crimson Bears and the Ketchikan High School Kings saw a repeat of the results.

Just as on Friday, Juneau built a double-digit lead in the second quarter, only to see it evaporate en route to a loss.

On Saturday, Kayhi scored 27 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Bears 78-68. Juneau led at halftime, 35-26.

Both teams applied full-court pressure for most of the game, but it was Kayhi that deployed its offense better. The Kings were able to draw 31 free-throw attempts to Juneau’s 20. They made 22 of those shots; the Crimson Bears made just nine.

In the third period, Kayhi’s Jake Smith hit four 3-pointers on his way to a team-leading 23 points. His last three-pointer completed the Kayhi comeback and put the Kings up 51 to 48.

Juneau tied the game at 51 with a three-point play by Kasey Watts at the end of the third quarter. The play energized the Bears, but Kayhi started the fourth period with the ball and took advantage.

The Kings slowed the game down on that first possession and made several passes before getting Chris Lee an open shot. He was fouled and made both free throws to begin a Kayhi run of 14 straight points.

During that stretch, the Bears lost Bryce Swofford to foul trouble. Ketchikan’s Marcus Lee was instrumental in breaking down the Juneau press, at one point making a determined coast-to-coast rebound and driving score to put the Kings up 59- 51. He finished with 21 points for the Kings.

Juneau’s tall guys had another tough game. Erik Kelly and Bryce Swofford were held scoreless in the fourth period and both fouled out of the game. Ulyx Bohulano had success shooting the ball from the outside; he hit five 3-pointers and had a team high 17 points. Kolby Hoover scored 11 points and Jordan Milligan scored nine.

JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said he saw some positives from the game in the effort of his players: they were able to implement some of the adjustments he made in practice.

“It’s a long season,” he said.

The trip to Ketchikan last weekend was a long one for the Bears, who will get another chance at the Kings at home in two weeks.

Saturday January 28, 2017
Kayhi blows past JDHS with fourth quarter comeback - Juneau Empire by Larry Johansen
     On a stormy Friday night in Ketchikan, the Kayhi Kings defeated the Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears 61-56 in Region V boys basketball action.

JDHS Coach Robert Casperson saw the forecast for the game Friday, but his team was powerless to push through the constant pressure from a persistent Kayhi defense.

“They are young, hungry, and athletic. We saw some film on them and tried to prepare for that in practice,” said Casperson.

Trailing 43-47 with 6:43 to go, the Kings outscored the Crimson Bears 18 to 9 in the closing minutes to seal the victory.

The Kings graduated their entire starting five from last season’s title contending team, but were able to avenge last year’s loss to the Crimson Bears in the semifinals of the state tournament.

Rising star sophomore Marcus Lee hit a three point shot at the buzzer to give the young Kings a first quarter lead 13 to 12. With a new found confidence, they applied full-court pressure most of the game.

When forced to play a half-court game, the Kings dropped back to defend against Juneau-Douglas’ twin towers of Bryce Swofford and Eric Kelley. The dynamic duo were held without a field goal the entire fourth quarter.

Kolby Hoover led the Bears with 10 points. Kasey Watts, Ulyxx Bohulano and Bryce Swofford had 8 points.

The two teams played again Saturday. Find coverage of that game at juneauempire.com. Kayhi then visits Juneau for games on Feb. 17 and 18.

Tuesday January 24, 2017
JDHS boys lose two, win one - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     The Crimson Bears boys didn’t fare quite as well as they did the previous weekend on the road during this trip at the Showdown, losing two games and winning one on the weekend, but JDHS was just five points from taking all three matches.

JDHS opened with a loss on Thursday, dropping their first game to Soldotna 48-45. The Crimson Bears then turned around on Friday for a sizeable 75-49 win over Houston before dropping their final game on Saturday to Palmer 47-45.

JDHS opens their conference schedule next weekend with away games at Ketchikan High School.

Sunday January 15, 2017
Last-second win over Lathrop caps JDHS boys road trip - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys completed a three-game road trip with a 61-59 win over Lathrop Saturday, closing the Malemutes out in a free throw shooting contest to go undefeated on the weekend.

JDHS trailed Lathrop until the last two minutes of the game, when a big shot by Sebastian Bradley tied the game 55-55 with a minute and a half to go.

Junior Erik Kelly then split a pair of free throws to give the Crimson Bears the 1-point lead. Kelly got to the line again with 43 seconds left, and again split his free throws for a 57-55 lead.

Lathrop’s Jeremiah Handy (20 points) then tied the game 57-57 by hitting both of his foul shots.

Kelly came up huge with a field goal and the foul from the low block with nine seconds left. He couldn’t complete the 3-point play, however, giving Lathrop the last possession and a chance to tie or hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with nine seconds left on the clock.

On the ensuing possession, Kelly fouled Lathrop’s Chateau Reed, who nailed both his free throws to tie the game 59-59.

JDHS’ Sebastian Bradley saved the day by getting to the line and hitting both his free throws with only a few ticks left on the clock to close the game 61-59.

Bryce Swofford and Kelly led JDHS with 16 points each. Kasey Watts followed JDHS’ big men with eight points.

Handy’s 20 points were a game-high. Following Handy for the Malemutes were Reed and Jake Carlson with 11 each.

JDHS heads back up North for four games next weekend against Chugiak, Soldotna, Houston and Palmer.

Traditionally, Southeast teams have a hard time making an impression up north as Anchorage and Fairbanks teams don’t see much of the Region V competition. If the Crimson Bears can continue their hot streak against the rest of the state, they could vault up from No. 5 in the Alaska Association of Basketball Coach’s poll, and, more importantly, make their case for an at-large bid to the state tournament should they not win the Region V tournament.

Saturday January 14, 2017
Low-scorer turns in JDHS boys favor - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball netted their second win in as many nights Friday with a 37-44 take-down of the Soldotna Stars at a Fairbanks-based tournament.

The Crimson Bears held every Stars player under double-digit scoring in the defensive-minded affair.

Erik Kelly led the effort with a game-high 12 points, followed closely by Bryce Swofford with 10. Junior Kolby Hoover chipped in with six points in only his second game back after suffering a broken leg in the off-season.

Soldotna’s Caleb Spence led his team in defeat with nine points on a field goal, a 3-pointer and a 4-for-4 performance from the line.

JDHS plays Lathrop at 8 p.m. Saturday. That game can be streamed online at http://www.hhsstreamteam.com/.

Saturday January 14, 2017
JDHS boys open road trip clean - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Two wins over Soldotna, Eielson

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team netted its second win in as many nights Friday with a 44-37 takedown of the Soldotna Stars at a Fairbanks-based tournament.

The Crimson Bears held every Stars player to single figures in the defense-minded affair.

Erik Kelly led the effort with a game-high 12 points, followed closely by Bryce Swofford with 10. Junior Kolby Hoover chipped in with six points in only his second game back after suffering a broken leg in the offseason.

Soldotna’s Caleb Spence led his team in defeat with nine points on a field goal, a 3-pointer and a 4-for-4 performance from the free-throw line.

CRIMSON BEARS 60, EIELSON 54

Before this season, Juneau-Douglas High School senior guard Kasey Watts hadn’t played a minute of organized basketball since eighth grade. The court rust apparently never took hold as the hockey transplant has been a key component of the Crimson Bears’ early-season successes.

Watts put up his biggest point total of the season (20 points) Thursday as JDHS took Eielson down 60-54 in the first game of an eight-game road schedule the Crimson Bears opened last week.

Watts, who also plays baseball, had the most points on the court Thursday in Juneau-Douglas High School’s first game at the Joe T. Classic tournament in Fairbanks. Watts was stellar from the field and the free-throw line, going 7-for-13 on six field goals and a 3-pointer. He topped that with a 5-for-5 performance from the line.

JDHS big men Bryce Swofford (16 points, 67 percent free-throw shooting) and Erik Kelly (13 points, 75 percent free-throw shooting) followed Watts’ lead in the scoring column.

Friday January 13, 2017
Watts' 20 push Crimson Bears past Eielson - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     JDHS boys open road trip with win

Prior to this season, Juneau-Douglas High School senior guard Kasey Watts hadn’t played a minute of organized basketball since eighth grade. The court rust apparently never took hold as the hockey transplant has been a key component in the Crimson Bears’ early-season successes.

Watts put up his biggest point total of the season (20 points) Thursday as JDHS took Eielson down 60-54 in the first game of an nine-game road schedule in the month of January.

The baseball player led with a game-high 20 points Thursday in JDHS’ first game at the Joe T. Classic tournament in Fairbanks. Watts was 7 of 13 from the field and perfect from the free throw line, making six field goals and a 3-pointer and topping that off with a 5-for-5 performance from the line.

JDHS big men Bryce Swofford (16 points, 67 percent free-throw shooting) and Erik Kelly (13 points, 75 percent free-throw shooting) followed Watts’ lead in the scoring column.

The Crimson Bears play Soldotna Friday night and Lathrop Saturday. All Joe T. Classic games can be streamed at http://www.hhsstreamteam.com/.

Friday January 06, 2017
Buzzer beater sends wild game to overtime; JDHS boys win - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     JDHS boys come out on top in possible state tournament preview

A wild buzzer beater 3-pointer from the visiting West Valley Wolfpack sent Thursday’s game at Juneau-Douglas High School into overtime, pitting two possible state tournament foes against each other for a barn burner finish in early-season prep basketball.

The Crimson Bears — trailing nearly the entire game — came out on top 77-74 in extra time, marking their second win over the Wolfpack in as many nights.

Building his team “comes down to getting experience like this,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “They learned how hard it is to win against a team like West Valley two nights in a row.”

Up 65-63 with just 10 seconds left in the game, Juneau-Douglas senior guard Ulyx Bohulano split a pair of double-bonus free throws to give the Crimson Bears a 3-point lead.

West Valley leading scorer, senior guard Jaden Whiteside, took the ball down the court and pulled up from distance to tie the game — but his shot bounced off the rim. Wolfpack guard Dylan Erhart recovered the offensive board with just three seconds left and shoveled a pass to senior Isaiah Winfrey on the left wing.

Standing nearly out of bounds, Winfrey put up an off-balance desperation heave over two defenders — his shot arcing nearly to the ceiling and in to tie the game 66-66, pushing the contest to four extra minutes.

“It felt amazing, I didn’t know what was going through my mind,” Winfrey said.

Whiteside, who scored 23 on the night off of four 3-pointers, four field goals and a 3-3 mark from the line, said he loves these kinds of games.

“Playing in these kinds of games is always fun, honestly, though it’s not fun coming out on the losing side,” Whiteside said, adding, “We are going to come together as a team.”

JDHS was led in the scoring column by senior Bryce Swofford with a game-high 26 points off eight field goals, a 3-pointer and a 7-9 performance from the charity stripe. Junior Erik Kelly followed Swofford’s lead with 20, with Bohulano contributing 11 in his most offensively aggressive performance to date.

Behind Whiteside, the Wolfpack were led in defeat by guard Dylan Erhart with 13 and captains Cornelius Mingo Jr. and Isaiah Winfrey with 12 each.

Kelly nailed a couple of and-1 free throws in overtime to steal momentum back and give JDHS a 7-point lead with just two minutes left. A couple free throws and an and-1 play from Whiteside pulled the game within two points before Swofford fouled out with just a minute to go.

A goal tending call on a Whiteside three pointer gave the Wolfpack hope to close the game, but West Valley couldn’t harness the heroics in the closing seconds, with a half court shot just barely missing the net to close the game 77-74.

Possibly overlooked by the wild finish, reserve player Luis Lozada’s crucial effort on a couple of rebounds, buckets and steals at the beginning of the fourth helped the Crimson Bears steal momentum back.

JDHS goes on a “circus road trip,” in Casperson’s words, for games in the next three weeks against Ben Eilson High School, Soldotna, Lathrup, Chugiak, Houston and Palmer before returning home for a few days and then heading to Ketchikan High School at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 27 and 28.

Those will be JDHS’ first conference tilts of the season.

CRIMSON BEARS 77, WOLFPACK 74

Juneau-Douglas 17 7 16 26 11(OT) —77

West Valley 17 13 18 18 8(OT) —74

Juneau-Douglas (77) — Swofford 26, Kelly 20, Bohulano 11, Watts 7, Milligan 5, Hamrick 4, Lozada 4

West Valley (74) — Whiteside 23, Erhart 13, Mingo Jr. 12, Winfrey 12, Ward 4, Fields-Colbert 4, Davis 2, Campbell 2, Peter 1, Keeton 1

Free throws — Juneau-Douglas 22-33, West Valley 15-20

3-point goals — Juneau-Douglas 5, West Valley 7

Team fouls — Juneau-Douglas 18, West Valley 24

Thursday January 05, 2017
Over Wolfpack, Crimson Bears boys find winning blueprint - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball took to the glass Wednesday to out-rebound visiting West Valley for their third win of the season.

JDHS’ twin peaks of 6-foot-5 Erik Kelly and 6-foot-7 Bryce Swofford controlled the boards on both sides of the ball, denying the Wolfpack — who like to shoot threes — many second-chance opportunities while garnering easy putbacks on offense in the 64-46 win.

Kelly and Swofford were a one-two punch on the score sheet with 20 and 19 points respectively; JDHS’ preliminary stats show Kelly gobbled up a staggering 25 rebounds.

The pair are a winning combination, especially against smaller teams who like to shoot.

“We were looking to work inside, definitely get our bigger guys some touches in there,” Swofford said. “I think it paid off, we played to our strengths.”

JDHS dominated the first quarter, limiting the Wolfpack to a single shot on every possession zero 3-point buckets. After a 14-6 opening frame, West Valley found their shot in the second, with senior guard Jaden Whiteside hitting three threes in as many minutes and flushing a pair of free throws to narrow the deficit to 18-16.

JDHS coach Robert Casperson said the Wolfpack “willed themselves” back into the game.

“They have some really good athletes and some kids with a lot of pride over there. They played really hard and started hitting some shots,” he said.

Another factor played into the Wolfpack’s brief comeback: JDHS wasn’t feeding their bigs.

“We got a little ahead of ourselves,” Swofford said. “We’re not too experienced yet.”

JDHS pushed their lead back to 35-28 by half.

“At halftime I talked about how we want to guard a couple of people, and if we can get the ball inside and attack them that way, they maybe have to look at a different lineup,” Casperson said.

West Valley was led in the defeat by Whiteside with 15, 11 of which came in the second quarter. Keon Campbell followed his lead with 10.

Sophomore guard John Hamrick followed Kelly and Swofford on the scoresheet with nine. Ulyx Bohulano, who had to step out briefly with a leg injury, added eight.

Coverage of JDHS’ second game against West Valley, played Thursday night, didn’t make Friday’s print deadline. Look for a game story at the Empire online at juneauempire.com.

CRIMSON BEARS 64, WOLFPACK 46

Juneau-Douglas 14 21 17 12 —64

West Valley 6 22 9 9 —46

Juneau-Douglas (64) — Kelly 20, Swofford 19, Hamrick 9, Bohulano 8, Mallinger 5, Milligan 3

West Valley (46) — Whiteside 15, Campbell 10, Fields-Colbert 8, Mingo Jr. 6, Keeton 3, Davis 2, Garcia 2

Free throws — Juneau-Douglas 13-20, West Valley 7-14

3-point goals — Juneau-Douglas 1, West Valley 1

Team fouls — Juneau-Douglas 13, West Valley 17

Monday January 02, 2017
The year in Juneau sports - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     In a year where seemingly every facet of public life divided Americans, Alaskans and Juneauites, I am not afraid to say I looked to local sports for a little escape. When I sat down on the bleachers at Juneau-Douglas or Thunder Mountain High Schools this year, I checked my baggage at gate: I really just needed to tune out and watch a game.

2016 honestly made me feel sick at times. Local sports were my chicken soup.

This year, Juneau’s athletes brought it. JDHS saw its first basketball state championship in 19 years, Thunder Mountain earned its first ever state championship and three of Juneau’s high school activities merged into one.

A slew of other athletes won championships, set records and defied the odds this year. All of these stories can be found online at juneauempire.com.

JDHS boys claim 4A crown

Crimson Bears boys basketball ended its 19-year championship drought in March, marking the team’s first state title since Carlos Boozer graced JDHS’ hardwood. The boys beat Dimond in the title match 38-31.

The Crimson Bears barely made it out of the first round of the state tournament. Then-sophomore bench player Kolby Hoover’s last second heroics helped JDHS over Bartlett 58-57 in the quarterfinals.

JDHS then faced their vaunted rivals Ketchikan in the semis, where leading scorer Kaleb Tompkins played the hero’s role. With the ball and nine seconds left on the clock, JDHS senior Guy Bean inbounded to Tompkins at the baseline. Ketchikan, in the double bonus, couldn’t foul as Tompkins — who almost lost his dribble at half — took the ball all the way down to the right elbow, and flushed the game winner from 12 feet.

The title game against Bartlett ended up being the fourth-lowest scoring state championship in Alaska history.

It was a truly special campaign. In the regular season, Juneau-Douglas split four inter-conference battles with the state’s No. 2-ranked Ketchikan, also boasting an all-senior starting cast.

The team had as much chemistry on the court as off. Four of JDHS’ five seniors (Hunter Hickok, Tompkins, Molo Maka, Treyson Ramos and Bean) played together since elementary school for Juneau’s Hoop Rats team.

Falcons softball earns school’s first state championship

Falcons softball soared to new heights this year with their first ever Alaska Scholastic Athletics Association team title, defeating rival Juneau-Douglas 14-6.

TMHS head coach Jorge Cordero couldn’t have been prouder of his team.

“I’m flying high!” Cordero said after the game. “It was a little tough in the beginning, but we came back and put them away. Parents, kids, everybody’s excited, I’m just happy for our program. It’s a big boost for the school, that’s huge and I am glad it’s our team. It put us on the map.”

Welling wins three events at state

Falcons standout track and field runner Naomi Welling capped an exceptional career by winning three events at the ASAA state championships in May.

Welling won the 300­-meter hurdles with a blistering state ­record time of 43.49 seconds, a full half a second faster than her 44.01 Region V record set only a week earlier. A mere 40 minutes later, she turned around and won the 800­-meter, completing a brutal double most athletes wouldn’t even attempt.

Welling also took the top spot in the triple jump with a 38 feet and five and three­-quarter inches jump, seven inches further than the second place finisher.

Falcons upset Kings at Region tourney

When you’re 5-17 on the season and on an eight-game losing streak, people tend to count you out. This thought never occurred to the Thunder Mountain Falcons boys basketball team when they took on the state’s No. 2-ranked Ketchikan High School at the Region V tournament in March.

The 71-68 win marked Alaska high school basketball’s biggest upset of the season as Ketchikan was knocked out of the running for the Southeast Conference 4A title. It was Thunder Mountain’s best overall performance this season: eight different scorers got on the board for the Falcons as they shot their best percentage from the field all year. Seniors Moa Maka and Shane Mielke both hit clutch fourth-quarter 3-pointers and senior RJ Manning had two huge back-to-back buckets with less than a minute to go.

Thunder Mountain would go on to lose in the conference title match to JDHS, but the win redeemed a tough season for the Falcons, who, despite their record, always gave the impression they could beat anyone.

Ketchikan football walks off the field

In the strangest and most controversial story of the year, Kayhi football walked out of a September football game at Thunder Mountain High School citing dangerous play and poor officiating.

Two Kayhi football players were hospitalized during the game. ASAA later issued Ketchikan a fine for forfeiting.

“Guys are getting injured because there are no fouls being called, no flags being thrown with illegal hits taking place,” Ketchikan coach Jim Byron said after the game.

When the game was called, the Falcons had a 21-0 lead with five minutes left in the second quarter.

TMHS and JDHS tennis, wrestling merge into one program

The state’s governing sports body, ASAA, granted Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas High Schools the right to combine four prep sports this year in an effort to cut district costs.

Wrestling, drama debate and forensics, tennis and dance were originally proposed to merge into one program, though TMHS’ dance team found a coach, and decided to stay separate this year.

TMHS students were allowed to participate on JDHS’ tennis team and JDHS’ wrestlers joined TMHS’ team.

The merger may (or may not, depending on who you ask) foreshadow further sports mergers in the future.

Cody Weldon wins wrestling state championship

Seemingly nothing could stop Cody Weldon this year as he tore his way to the top of Alaska high school wrestling. The Juneau-Douglas High School senior worked all season with a confidence and tenacity that couldn’t be denied, winning six tournaments on his way to last weekend’s Alaska Scholastic Activities Association state championships.

There, he made ended his career on a high note by pinning South Anchorage’s Tyler Cross for the 220-pounds title.

“It’s been something I have been trying to get to for a long time,” Weldon said. “I’ve worked pretty hard to get here, had a lot of support from my coaches in all my sports, and I finally was able to make everything click and work. It feels pretty good.”

TMHS honors Ryan Mayhew

“There’s no script, there’s no playbook for something like this,” TMHS head coach Randy Quinto said after playing their first game without senior Ryan Mayhew, who was killed by an accidental gunshot in mid-September.

The team honored Mayhew by taking the field down a player for their first kick, laying Mayhew’s jersey where he would lineup. Senior teammate and friend Riley Olson wore Mayhew’s number for the rest of the game.

Afterward, the team lit and released sky lanterns on the field.

“He was just my best friend,” Olson said. “Always fun to be around. It just really hurts me to see him go, and I am playing for him.”

Erik Kelly’s one-handed alley-oop dunk

In the third of the Crimson Bears’ boys basketball games against Ketchikan last season, JDHS sophomore Kelly treated the home crowd to a monster, one-handed alley-oop jam off an assist from Bryce Swofford.

Words won’t do this play justice.

“It happened really fast. I thought Bryce was going to get it, but when I saw the defender was going over to him, I figured I’d jump. … It was my first alley-oop in a game so I was excited but I didn’t want to show too much emotion,” Kelly said.

JDHS swimmers bookend careers as state runners-up

In a fitting close to a stellar prep swimming career, eight-time state champion Mia Ruffin, the Crimson Bears’ 400-yard freestyle relay anchor, ended the state swim and dive championships with a comeback win. Ruffin went into the final leg of that event trailing Dimond’s Breckynn Willis by more than a body length.

“I saw that Andyn (Mulgrew-Truitt, sophomore) kept the lead for second, so I just thought, ‘OK, I am just going to try and win this,’” Ruffin said of the final leg of the 400 relay. “I just heard ‘go, go!’ so I just went for it.”

Ruffin’s comeback win highlighted a stellar performance by JDHS’ three senior girls swimmers: Ruffin, Gabi Kito and Sarah Mertz. The trio took home two relay titles and two individual titles at the ASAA meet.

Sunday January 01, 2017
Dimond takes championship rematch - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Fourth quarter comeback over JDHS ends Classic

Dimond High School boys basketball came to Juneau looking for redemption. They found it in the fourth quarter of the Capital City Classic championship against Juneau-Douglas High School.

The two schools met Friday for a rematch of last year’s state championship, where JDHS came out on top 38-31. This time, Dimond played the spoiler, taking the Classic crown by holding their opponents scoreless for six minutes in the fourth quarter for a 61-48 win.

“It was an emotional game for us, we really wanted this one bad,” Dimond senior Anthony Parker said. “It was all it was hyped up to be.”

JDHS led from the first quarter until midway through the fourth, when Dimond staged a seven-point comeback.

During the first three quarters of the game, the home team didn’t have trouble breaking the Lynx’ full court press and exploited it with backdoor cuts in transition. When Dimond stopped gambling for steals, however, forcing JDHS to play with more defenders in front of them, the easy buckets dried up.

“We confined ourselves to pressing on the back side, letting them cross halfcourt and then pressing, setting traps in the corner,” Parker said.

Dimond took advantage of JDHS’ drought, with role player Derek Gates-Magnuson hitting a pair of momentum switching 3-pointers. When JDHS was finally able to end the run, they were in down 10 and in the double bonus with just two minutes to go.

Senior captain Bryce Swofford fouled out with 1:23 left on the clock, leaving Crimson Bears big man Erik Kelly to contain Dimond in the paint.

“We were making some bad passes, I was, nonchalant,” Kelly said. “We wanted to show that we’re not the same team as last year. Because we lost all of our players last year, we wanted to come out and make a statement and show them who we are. … This gives us something to work on.”

“I don’t believe it’s a statement game as much as a measuring stick,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “It’s our third game of the year. That’s the most pressure we’ve seen. I don’t think we’re ready to beat a team like Dimond, yet.”

Parker led his team in scoring with 13 points followed by Nicolas Horning with 12 and Kylan Osborne with 10.

JDHS was led in defeat by Kelly with 18 and senior Kasey Watts with 12.

Dimond hit 18 of their 35 foul shots while JDHS — who only garnered four attempts from the line — hit three.

The Crimson Bears next host West Valley Jan. 4 and 5.

CRIMSON BEARS 48, LYNX 61

Juneau-Douglas 11 17 12 8 —48

Dimond 8 18 7 28 —61

Juneau-Douglas (48) — Kelly 18, Watts 12, Bohulano 7, Swofford 7, Bradley 2, Hamrick 2

Dimond (61) — Parker 13, Hopkins 12, Gates-Magnuson 6, Boese 6, Jenkins 6

Free throws — Juneau-Douglas 3-4, Dimond 18-35

3-point goals — Juneau-Douglas 1, Dimond 5

Team fouls — Juneau-Douglas 25, Dimond 11

Thursday December 29, 2016
Crimson Bears boys gain experience in blowout win - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Championship rematch with Dimond Friday

Halfway through the first quarter of Juneau-Douglas High School’s blowout win over visiting independent Valor Christian, six-foot-seven senior forward Bryce Swofford nearly dunked (his fingers just grazing the rim), then turned around and ran the court to block a layup from Valor’s Joshua Botsford.

The play showcased Swofford’s ability on both sides of the ball as he dominated the early stages of Wednesday’s 91-23 win. His most important contribution, however, may have come from the bench.

Instead of tuning out as JDHS’ lead ballooned (47-11 by half) and head coach Robert Casperson substituted in his bench, Swofford and the rest of the starters cheered their less experienced teammates on.

The Crimson Bears used every minute of the game to deepen their experience and hone their fundamentals in anticipation of conference play.

Buoyed by the support of his teammates, senior forward Jordan Milligan — who put up eight points on the night — benefitted from the extra work.

“I think it’s important, it makes us feel more like a family and trust each other more,” Milligan said of the squad’s camaraderie. “I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win.”

Sophomore guard John Hamrick, playing in his second game on varsity, said he was “a little nervous” before taking the court. Like Milligan, Hamrick played with confidence Wednesday, saying he “sweated off” any nerves on the way to nine points.

As the Crimson Bears’ schedule progresses, head coach Robert Casperson said, the strength of their bench will become more and more important.

“We’re building depth because we’re getting guys more minutes, more comfortable on the court. That should translate down the road when there’s injuries, illness, where guys coming off the bench will be comfortable in their roles and just ready to play.”

A dozen different Crimson Bears scored on the night, with seven of those players scoring more than eight points each. Junior Erik Kelly led all scorers with 17, followed by Swofford’s 14, Luke Mallinger and Ulyx Bohulano’s 12 and Hamrick’s nine.

Championship rematch set for Friday

JDHS and visiting Dimond High School, who the Crimson Bears beat 38-31 in the state championship game last year, will face off at 7 p.m. Friday in a true championship ending to the Capital City Classic. Both teams come into the final game with two wins in the tournament, meaning the winner of that game will claim bragging rights as the Classic champions.

Dimond looks strong in their CCC play so far, having logged comparable wins to JDHS over common opponents: JDHS beat Haines 71-43 while Dimond took the Glacier Bears 85-24; Dimond won over Valor 89-14.

Casperson said that game will be “a lot of fun” and that Dimond looks “really strong” so far having returned most of their team. Look for coverage of that game online at juneauempire.com and in Sunday’s print edition.

CRIMSON BEARS 91, KNIGHTS 23

Juneau-Douglas 30 37 17 7 —91

Valor 5 6 7 5 —23

Juneau-Douglas (91) — Bradley 1, Watts 8, Hamrick 9, Beelitz 3, Bohulano 12, Swofford 14, Shapland-Murray 2, Milligan 8, Kelly 17, Samtani 3, Mallinger 12, Lozada 2

Valor (23) — Botsford 7, Taylor 4, Osborn 2, Chamber 1, Littlejohn 8, Darling 1

Free throws — Juneau-Douglas 6-14, Valor 6-14

3-point goals — Juneau-Douglas 3, Valor 1

Team fouls — Juneau-Douglas 10, Valor 12

Wednesday December 28, 2016
JDHS boys open with win over Haines - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     New group stepping out of state championship shadow

Defending state champions Juneau-Douglas High School got the jitters out Tuesday against Haines in their season opener, besting the Glacier Bears in their first game at the Capital City Classic.

The Crimson Bears protected the paint and dominated the rebound margin while new varsity players logged their first minutes in the 71-43 win.

Things didn’t go perfectly for the Crimson Bears — with four new starters, there’s a lot to work out for the new team — but if JDHS got it all right this early in the season, according to head coach Robert Casperson, that wouldn’t be alright.

“It’s good to be out here playing after a lot of talk and hype,” Casperson said. “This is a different group. If we came out here and played our best basketball the first night, I think we would be in trouble.”

The Crimson Bears established key strengths in the defensive play of starting forward Bryce Swofford and point guard Ulyx Bohulano, who harried passing lanes inside and outside the perimeter while holding Haines to just seven points in the first half.

“I think there’s room for improvement. We need to work on not fouling and moving the ball quicker and smarter,” Swofford said.

JDHS spread the ball around considerably in the win, with a dozen different Crimson Bears scoring on the night. Surprise roster addition Kasey Watts led the Crimson Bears with 14, with senior Jordan Milligan — who’s been chomping at the bit for varsity action — following Watts’ lead with 12.

Watts, in his first year with the team, said he’s not yet an “explosive” player on offense. He does know how to crash the offensive glass, however.

“I wanted to try something new and I kept hearing about the team and what they were able to do last year,” Watts said. “I think tonight showed we are capable of doing great things.”

Haines’ Dylan Swinton led all scorers with 26 points.

“We're happy to get the invite to come down to the Capital City Classic,” Haines coach Steve Fossman said.

CRIMSON BEARS 71, GLACIER BEARS 43

Juneau-Douglas 19 10 22 20 — 71

Haines 1 6 15 21 — 43

Juneau-Douglas (71) — Bradley 9, Watts 14, Hamrick 6, Beelitz 1, Bohulano 7, Swofford 6, Shapland-Murray 2, Milligan 12, Kelly 3, Samtani 2, Mallinger 6, Lozada 3.

Haines (43) — Swinton 26, Light 4, Sage 7, Fowler 2, Stigen 2, Clay 2

3-point goals — Juneau-Douglas 2 (Bradley, Milligan), Haines 2 (Swinton, Light).

Team fouls — Juneau-Douglas 19, Haines 18.

Sunday December 25, 2016
New Look, High Expectations for Defending Champs - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Last April, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys redrew the prep basketball map by winning their first state championship in 19 years. This year, the star that marks Alaska’s state capital might as well be a target.

“People might use us as their litmus test,” head coach Robert Casperson said. “We’re going to have to be ready every single night to maybe be the hunted, not so much the hunter.”

Fortunately for JDHS, the target on their back is a moving one: with possibly the state’s best combo of bigs now an offensive focal point, and an experienced, athletic senior taking the reins in the backcourt, opponents will have to contend with a whole new Crimson Bears team.

Who they lost:

JDHS lost four of their starting five and their sixth man to graduation. Team leading scorer Kaleb Tompkins, guard Treyson Ramos, shooting guard Guy Bean, center Hunter Hickok and forward Molo Maka all graduated.

Those five accounted for 64 percent of JDHS’ points last year and a majority of their steals and assists.

What to expect on the court:

JDHS has a lot of holes to fill this year, but they’ve got the talent to compensate.

“About the only thing we returned a high percentage of was our rebounding,” Casperson said. “That just creates new opportunities for the guys who are here.”

The focal point of the JDHS offense this year will be on the post play of 6’5” junior Erik Kelly and 6’7” senior Bryce Swofford.

Swofford led the team in rebounding last year, and the Crimson Bears will continue to look to him to clean up the glass, but this year, with opposing bigs also busy dealing with Kelly, Swofford will handle increased touches in the post.

“I think I’ll be a little more of an offensive threat. Kaleb was our leading scorer, but I think with my experience this year, I’ll be able to get more opportunities,” Swofford said.

As the only holdover from last year’s starting squad, the team will also rely on the senior’s leadership on the court, a role he says he is not necessarily used to.

“There’s no one to look up,” Swofford said. “So I have to do a bit more teaching. … I’m not too talkative but it depends on the situation. When it comes to basketball I’ll talk and speak up a little bit.”

Anyone who saw then sophomore Kelly coming off the bench last year knew JDHS had something on their hands. He made that abundantly clear in a crucial win over Ketchikan when he streaked down the court for a one-handed alley-oop dunk in transition.

Last year as JDHS’ 7th or even 8th man, Kelly accounted for nearly as many rebounds off the bench (150) as leading scorer Tompkins (146), while playing in six less games (24).

He’ll step into a full-time role this year alongside Swofford as JDHS’ presence in the paint.

“As far as I am concerned, we have a couple of the more talented big guys in the state,” Casperson said. “They’re going to need opportunities to score, and were going to do things to put them in opportunities to score, then let Bryce and Erik finish in those situations.”

Shored-up with talent and size in the front court, JDHS’ biggest challenge will be in replacing the backcourt. Last year, the Crimson Bears relied on the ball handling and scoring ability of Tompkins, Ramos and Bean.

This year, they’ll rely on seniors Ulyx Bohulano and Jordan Milligan, and a handful of juniors to take up the slack.

Bohulano is a similar athlete to Ramos: fast, explosive and aggressive with the ball and a dogged defender. Ramos generated the most assists on the team last year, so Bohulano has big shoes to fill.

“It’s a lot of pressure, actually,” he said. “People are still learning, maybe we’ll get to the point where we’re great together but we’ll have to see in games.”

Not only will Bohulano expected to distribute the ball and score, he needs to lead the team in defensive energy, Casperson said.

“I see his role being a little bit different for Ulyx at the point guard spot,” he said. “I think he’s going to have more opportunities to score, but we’re also going to rely on him to defend like crazy. That’s a big hole for us, that defensive pressure and intensity at the point guard position, he’s going to have to fill that.”

Six-foot-four junior Kolby Hoover will find a role in the rotation once he recovers from a broken tibia sustained in June. The recovery has gone well — the forward even gained 20 pounds offseason in the weight room — but Casperson said they’re, “keeping the reins pulled back on him until they’re sure he’s 100 percent.”

“It’s getting there, I’m probably still around a month out, but it’s going well,” Hoover said of the recovery.

Hoover has varsity experience, even scoring the game winner in their opening-round win over Bartlett at the state tournament last year. He’ll be a much bigger part of the team this year, according to Casperson, who says Hoover creates matchup problems with his size.

“He can handle the ball, so he’ll play some point guard at times. We’ll be able to have some different lineups with him in the rotation,” Casperson said. “ I do see him creating some matchup problems in the sense that he’s got size to go inside with his length. He’s going to be a real nice addition to the team when he’s cleared to play.”

Senior Jordan Milligan will see a lot of varsity minutes this year along with junior Sebastian Bradley. Milligan brings shooting and strength inside while the Crimson Bears will look to Bradley as a backup guard.

The schedule:

JDHS plays 22 games this year, 13 home and nine away. They play conference opponents Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain four times each, twice at home and twice away. Those conference games will determine seeding for the Region V tournament.

The Capital City Classic should be great again this year, especially the state championship rematch against Dimond on Jan. 30.

The 2016 state championship win was the fourth-lowest scoring in history, and though both teams will be coming after each other in the statement game, expect the early-season contest to be much more open than last year’s title match.

JDHS plays all of their away games during a two week road stint starting mid-January, which should provide a good measure of their chances to repeat.

The nine mid-season games are JDHS’ only chance to showcase their team for a statewide audience. If they can’t win the Southeast Region, which will be competitive this year, they’ll have to build a reputation during that stretch to earn an at-large bid to the postseason.

(Date, time, opponent)

Dec. 27, 7 p.m., Haines (Capital City Classic)

Dec. 28, 7 p.m., Valor Christian (Capital City Classic)

Dec. 30, 7 p.m., Dimond (Capital City Classic)

Jan. 4, 7 p.m., West Valley

Jan. 5, 7 p.m., West Valley

Jan. 12, 4:40 p.m., away Ben Eielson (Fairbanks, Joe T. Classic)

Jan. 13, 4:40 p.m., away Soldotna (Fairbanks, Joe T. Classic)

Jan. 14, 8 p.m., at Lathrop (Fairbanks, Joe T. Classic)

Jan. 18, at Chugiak

Jan. 19, away Soldotna (Palmer Elks Showdown)

Jan. 20, away Houston (Palmer Elks Showdown)

Jan. 21, at Palmer (Palmer Elks Showdown)

Jan. 27, 7:15 p.m., at Ketchikan

Jan. 28, 7:15 p.m., at Ketchikan

Feb. 3, 7 p.m., TMHS (homecoming)

Feb. 4, 7 p.m., TMHS (homecoming)

Feb. 10, 7 p.m., Lathrop

Feb. 11, 7 p.m., Lathrop

Feb. 17, 8 p.m., Ketchikan

Feb. 18, 8 p.m., Ketchikan (senior night)

Mar. 3, 8 p.m., TMHS

Mar. 4, 8 p.m., TMHS

Mar. 7-11, Region V tournament at JDHS

Mar. 23-25, ASAA State Tournament at Anchorage

The roster:

(number, name, height, weight, class)

#15 Hunter Beelitz, 6’3”, 160, 2017

#20 Ulyx Bohulano, 5’8”, 155, 2017

#22 Marshall Shapland-Murray, 5’11”, 175, 2017

#23 Jordan Milligan, 6’0”, 175, 2017

#21 Bryce Swofford, 6’7”, 210, 2017

#44 Luis Lozada, 5’11”, 211, 2017

#24 Erik Kelly, 6’5”, 200, 2018

#11 Kolby Hoover, 6’4”, 175, 2018

#2 Sebastian Bradley, 5’10”, 145, 2018

#12 Kasey Watts, 6’0”, 190, 2018

#33 Tristin Eidsness, 5’7”, 130, 2018

#31 Luke Mallinger, 5’10”, 160, 2018

#30 Krishant Samtani, 5’10”, 155, 2019

#13 John Hamrick, 5’8”, 145, 2019

Head Coach - Robert Casperson

Assistant Coach - John Sleppy

Assistant Coach - Ben Kriegmont

Assistant Coach - Brice Searles

Manager - Caitlynn Rich

Manager - Alison Ford

Manager - David Timothy

Friday December 16, 2016
JDHS Boys Alumni Game: Friday, December 23 at 7:00pm
     Your first chance to see the 2016-17 Boys Varsity Crimson Bears in action will be December 23 at 7:00pm vs. all your favorite alumni. Admission is free, but donations are always accepted!

Friday November 18, 2016
ASAA365.com
     Are you a basketball fan? If so go to ASAA365.com and you can follow all of the action in the state of Alaska! Get access to schedules, scores, results, highlights, and conference standings.

Wednesday November 16, 2016
Varsity Schedule Released!
     Catch all the action of the boys varsity team this season at home and away. Go to the "Varsity Team" tab above and scroll down to click on "Varsity Schedule". Or you can copy and paste this link: http://www.slickstats.com/alaska/boys/basketball/juneau-douglas/schedule?year=2017

Sunday September 11, 2016
ASAA Announces the Start Date for Alaska High School Basketball
     The JDHS Crimson Bears will be back in action with the start of the 2016-17 season on Wednesday, November 30th. Any student-athletes interested in playing in the program this year must make sure that they have a current physical on file with the school and signed participation and consent to treat forms. Check on your paperwork status with the Activities Office.

Friday September 02, 2016
Basketball camp for athletes with special needs - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Greg Brittenham, former NBA assistant coach with the New York Knicks, will be in town to run his “I Did. You Can.” basketball camp 9 a.m.-noon Sept. 3-5 at the Juneau-Douglas High School gym. The camp is free. For more information or to pre-register, please contact Janette Gagnon at 321-6584 Janette.gagnon@juneauschools.org. Volunteers are still needed for the camp. Please contact Gagnon or camp director Brittenham at 203-969-5235 or gdotbritt@gmail.com. With a ratio of one coach per three athletes, I Did. You Can. is distinctively positioned to provide abundant opportunity for all participants to develop self-esteem, fundamental movement patterns, balance, body control, spatial awareness, eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, socialization, confidence and basketball skills, all within a safe, fun and supportive environment. Volunteers will include members of the JDHS state champion boys basketball team.

Sunday June 26, 2016
Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp: Wrap up and Awards
     The Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp was a tremendous success delivering professional instruction to nearly 200 participants.

Camp director and Juneau-Douglas head coach, Robert Casperson, would like to congratulate nearly 200 campers on two phenomenal weeks of basketball. Camp 1 had 150+ participants entering 2nd – 8th grades. Camp 2 had 40 participants entering 8th – 12th grades. This year’s camp drew participants from all over the state of Alaska, including Southeast, Western, and the Interior and also included few players from as far away as Washington and Arizona. He was impressed with the excitement, intensity, and improvement in all the players that attended the Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp. Coach Casperson also believes the coaching staff did an incredible job of delivering high quality instruction on the fundamentals of basketball.

The Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp also emphasizes the importance of making healthy life choices. Time was included during camp to discuss multiple topics. The importance of avoiding drugs and alcohol, working through life’s challenges, and goal setting was discussed.

An exciting feature of Camp 2 includes Championship Friday and All-Star Saturday, which creates an electric atmosphere for participants, family, and fans. The NCAA Championship game pitted the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Syracuse Orangemen. Even though Syracuse came through the losers’ bracket and forced the “if” game in the double-elimination tournament against the #1 seeded Tar Heels, the Tar Heels were able to emerge victorious. Then, in a reversal of fortunes from this years’ real life NBA championship, in Camp 2 the Warriors secured the camp championship title by defeating the Cavs on Friday.

Saturday was capped off with an All-star game for each division and the presentation of trophies for special awards that were voted on by the camp coaching staff.

The Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp operates in proud partnership with the following sponsors and businesses. We greatly appreciate their support! Please let the following groups know that you value their commitment to the youth of Juneau: The Fast Break Club, Commercial Signs & Printing, Oliver’s Trophies and Engraving, McDonald’s, Juneau Radio Center, Kimmel Athletic Supply, Community Schools and RALLY, Southeast Mini Lube, Southeast Mine Supply, Chad Erikson State Farm, Ike’s Fuel, Hoover’s Dirt Works, Stanley Ford, Mike Clasby, and Super Bear IGA, Foodland IGA.

The Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp will return in June of 2017.

NCAA Special Awards:

Free Throw Champion: Kasey Hamrick

2-minute Tourney Champs: Syracuse – Brock McCormick, Jake Sleppy, Mac Kesey, Kasey Hamrick, Taz Hauck, Spencer Gates, Alwen Carrillo

League Champs: University of North Carolina – Tristan DeVere, JD Gonzales, Cooper Kriegmont, Koneal Laguidao, Abram Lazo, Tad Watson, Uly-John Salaver

Best Passer: Marcos Yadao

Best Defense: Kasey Hamrick

Station Master: JD Gonzales

Most Hustle: Tristan DeVere

Most Improved: MacKenzie Gray

Best Rebounder: Cole Jensen

Most Valuable Player: Cooper Kriegmont

All-Stars: Marcos Yadao, Uly-John Salaver, Oliver Mendoza, Cooper Kriegmont, Mac Kesey, Kasey Hamrick, Cole Jensen, Malakai Nichols, Koneal Laguidao, Taz Hauck, JD Gonzales, Tad Watson

NBA Division Special Awards:

Free Throw Champion: John Hamrick

2-Minute Tourney Champs: Warriors – Seb Bradley, Christian Yadao, Jacy Johnson, Erik Kelly, Diego Rivera, and Charlee Lewis

League Champs: Warriors – Seb Bradley, Christian Yadao, Jacy Johnson, Erik Kelly, Diego Rivera, and Charlee Lewis

Best Passer: Ulyx Bohulano

Best Defense: Ulyx Bohulano

Station Master: Diego Rivera

Most Hustle: Brandon Guthrie

Most Improved: Seb Bradley

Best Rebounder: Erik Kelly

Most Valuable Player: Erik Kelly

All-Stars: John Hamrick, Ulyx Bohulano, Jerry White III, Seb Bradley, Erik Kelly, Jordan Milligan, Marshall Murray, MacKenzie Campbell, Krishant Samtani, Diego Rivera, Kieran Kollar, Brandon Guthrie

Thursday May 12, 2016
Holdat, is that Carlos Boozer? NBA star talks about what's next - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Making his first appearance in Juneau in three years, Carlos Boozer attended Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team’s season-ending banquet on Tuesday. As fans lined up for photos with the former JDHS basketball star and NBA all-star, the Empire caught up with Boozer at the banquet to talk about his career and life plans. (Don’t know what holdat means? Visit the Empire online and Boozer will explain in a video, sort of.)

How long’s it been since you’ve been back in Juneau?

It’s been about two or three years. It feels great, man, I love coming home. I’m always a native, this is where I grew up at. The mountains are so pretty, the water, the fishing, the seafood is so good. Just brings back a lot of memories when I touch down in Juneau.

What have you been up to lately?

A lot. Spending time with my kids mainly. My girl, travelling, my family, my parents. Letting my body recover from a long career. But also just enjoying time with my family and friends. I like to watch movies, go jet skiing, go to the beach a lot. I’m kind of a sunbather. I live in Miami and New York, so I do a lot of jet skiing and swimming in the ocean.

Have you been catching up with a lot of old connections here?

It’s great to come back and see friends I grew up with. I saw one of my oldest friends today, I’ve known her since I was in like fifth or sixth grade. It’s good to see everyone, see what they’re doing and catch up. It’s almost like a reunion.

Did you expect it to take 18 years for JDHS to win another championship?

You never know. Every year you have a chance, and this year happened to be their year. I am super proud of the boys, they played really well, you can tell they’re a super close group of guys, a lot of studs on the team, led by a lot of great seniors, obviously a great coaching staff. They made us all real proud.

What’s next for you? Taking a little time off after your career?

I have. I might go into commentating, might be an analyst. I’ve done some stuff with NBA TV, ESPN. But I also might come back, I might come back and play again. I kind of miss it, especially now, the playoffs are the best time in the NBA, so I might come back, we’ll see.

So, you’re looking to land another contract?

Maybe, maybe, we’ll see. Stay tuned, man.

What do you remember most when you look back on your championship years?

Just the guys I played with. James Wilson, Robert Ridgeway, Evan Tromble, Christian Carpeneti, we just had so many great guys, Mike Vanderjack, we had so many great players I played with. No matter how good you are individually, you can’t win on your own, and I had a bunch of studs around me that don’t get as much credit as they deserve. I was led by coach (George) Houston, who was amazing and gave me the freedom to lead the way I wanted to lead, the freedom to grow as a player. It’s just awesome to have the whole town behind you, and for me that was the best part.



Returning senior guard, Kaleb Tompkins, accepts a $1000 donation check on behalf of the JDHS boys basketball team from Mark at Mendenhall Auto for successfully raising the most money at the Hot Dog Fundraiser held October 3, 2015