News Archives

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 and in Sunday’s print edition.


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.


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
     Are you a basketball fan? If so go to 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:

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 Volunteers are still needed for the camp. Please contact Gagnon or camp director Brittenham at 203-969-5235 or 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.

Wednesday May 11, 2016
Boozer comes back - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     State champions honored by Carlos Boozer, Gov. Walker

The state champion Crimson Bears boys basketball team held a banquet on Tuesday night at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, bookending a Juneau-Douglas High School season in which they won their first state championship in 18 years.

Gov. Bill Walker, former NBA all-star and JDHS alumnus Carlos Boozer and Juneau lawmakers attended to pay tribute to the boys team and its accomplishments.

Boozer, who was part of JDHS’ last championship squad, contacted coach Robert Casperson himself, saying he wanted to be a part of the ceremonies. He made his first trip to Juneau in three years to congratulate the boys, saying, “I’ve done a lot of things in my basketball career, but I’ll always look back to my state championships here because it gave me an appetite for winning.”

“... I’m proud of you guys, and I wish I could have seen you play a little bit more,” he continued. “Take the lessons you’ve learned, and apply them to your life; you’ll never forget this moment.”

Gov. Walker almost presented the boys their championship trophy.

“I was supposed to present the trophy,” Walker joked with the team. “But I was standing on the court, and one of you guys reached over my head and grabbed it out of my hands. I guess after 18 years, you weren’t gonna wait for the ceremonies.”

Reps. Cathy Muñoz and Sam Kito joined Sen. Dennis Egan to present a framed legislative citation honoring the Crimson Bears’ accomplishments.

“I am glad to be a part of legislation the governor can’t veto,” Egan said.

The varsity awards presented Tuesday included:

• Zach Gordon Award, Kaleb Tompkins

• MVP, Kaleb Tompkins.

• 2-point marksman, Erik Kelly

• 3-point marksman, Guy Bean

• Mr. Clutch (highest freethrow percentage), Kaleb Tompkins

• Toughness Award (for taking charges), Bryce Swofford

• Best Passer, Treyson Ramos

• Best Rebounder, Bryce Swofford

• Best Defense, Treyson Ramos

• Most Hustle, Bryce Swofford

• Most Improved, Hunter Hickok

• Most Inspirational, Guy Bean

Junior Varsity awards went to:

• MVP, Jordan Milligan

• Mr. Hustle, Israel Yadao

• Best Defense, John Hamrick

• Most Improved, Sesar Hersisson

• Coaches' Award for Excellence, Doug Johnson

Monday May 02, 2016
JDHS Basketball Star Signs National Letter of Intent for University - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Another hoop rat to play at next level

Fresh off a state championship season, Juneau-Douglas High School basketball star Kaleb Tompkins won’t have much time to reflect on his accomplishments — he’s just earned a scholarship to Warner Pacific University.

Tompkins signed his letter of intent to play for the Portland, Oregon school in front of his smartphone-wielding teammates, coaches and family on Wednesday.

“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little kid, it’s kind of a dream come true,” Tompkins said after filling out what has to be the most exciting paperwork of this life. “It’s a stress off my shoulders now, it feels great. It was a tough decision, there were other schools I was looking at.”

Schools on Tompkins’ short list included Everett and Mt. Hood community colleges and Grays Harbor College.

Tompkins learned about Warner Pacific on an exposure trip with some of Alaska’s best prep players, including his cousin Guy Bean, who recently signed with Gray’s Harbor College. Dimond High School girls coach Jim Young took the boys to visit schools in the Lower 48 and Tompkins said Warner Pacific’s campus struck him as a great option.

Warner Pacific is a four-year school, which was important to Tompkins.

Warner Pacific’s team is also known to compete well in the Cascade Conference and the National Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

Tompkins said he is excited to be a part of a competitive team and he’ll be so busy with basketball he doesn’t see himself being distracted by the bustle of downtown Portland.

The 6-foot-5 guard led the state champion Crimson Bears with 529 points on the season, a 17.6 points-per-game average. On varsity since his sophomore season, Tompkins grew five inches in three years but continued to play with the shiftiness of a 6-footer, landing him second-team all state honors his senior year.

Tompkins is part of a senior class that started playing as youngsters together on Juneau’s Hoop Rats youth basketball teams. He and his self-described “basketball family” will leave massive shoes for the Crimson Bears to fill. Bean, Tompkins, Molo Maka, Treyson Ramos and Hunter Hickok all leave the team this year. JDHS rosters some great players underneath these five, but the seniors’ chemistry and drive will not be easily replaced.

Warner Pacific hasn’t indicated how they will utilize Tompkins. In the meantime, he doesn’t plan on doing anything different, just work on his game over the summer to stay sharp for the season.

Warner Pacific went 24-10 last year, making it to the second round of the NAIA National Championship Tournament where they were a No. 4 seed.

Monday April 18, 2016
JDHS basketball star signs college letter - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Guy Bean earns scholarship to Grays Harbor College

It seems everything has been going Guy Bean’s way lately. The Juneau-Douglas High School senior just finished a victorious state-championship basketball season for the Crimson Bears. Bean was also recently selected to the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Senior All-Star game.

He also just earned a scholarship to play basketball at the college level.

Bean signed a letter of intent with the Grays Harbor College of the Northwest Athletic Conference on Saturday and will play for the Chokers on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

On the way to Anchorage to play in the AABC Senior All-Star game, Bean is feeling grateful for the opportunity to continue playing competitive basketball, but he didn’t always know that was a possibility for him.

“I didn’t think it was gonna be a reality until I went on a trip and played against some college guys and realized I could handle it,” Bean said.

One of Bean’s teachers, Kelly McCormick, helped him make the push to the junior college level. She gave him an extra credit assignment to identify three junior colleges in the Northwest region and send them a highlight film.

After sending film out, Bean went on a basketball showcase trip with Dimond High School girls coach Jim Young and some of Alaska’s best players. Bean played against Grays Harbor on the trip and made an impression on Chokers coach Alonzo Cole.

Cole called Bean when he made it back to Alaska and offered Bean the scholarship.

“It’s kind of a rebuilding program with a new coach,” Bean said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of that … I like the campus. It’s not huge, and I kind of like that because it reminds me of Juneau. I don’t think I’ll get homesick.”

Bean knows it’s hard to get the amount of exposure an Alaskan athlete needs to make it to the next level. He had some advice for those Juneau kids who don’t know what kind of talent they have.

“Ask your parents if you can travel down south and play against those type of guys and see how you match up against them,” Bean said. “The other thing I would say is to advertise yourself, contact coaches first, send videos to all the coaches and don’t be shy about that because it’s all about selling yourself.”

In his senior season at JDHS, Bean has put together one of the best performances in the state. The guard scored 362 points in his final season, hitting a team-high 57 3-pointers and trailing only second-team all-state teammate—and cousin—Kaleb Tompkins in scoring.

Bean led his team with 37.7 percent from 3-point territory. His 55.3 percent from field goal range on the season, trailed only the big men, junior Bryce Swofford and sophomore Erik Kelly, in efficiency. His 74 assists fell four short of team-leading senior Treyson Ramos’ 78.

Bean will play for his coach Robert Casperson in the AABC senior All-Star game in Anchorage. He said his only goal was to “shoot a bunch of threes.”

Monday March 28, 2016
Juneau-Douglas boys rack up more awards: 4A/3A state basketball all-tournament teams
     All-tournament teams

Class 4A boys

Bentiu Panoam, Bartlett

Bryce Swofford, Juneau

Alec Canete-Hall, East

Eric Jenkins, Dimond

Daon Jones, East

Isaac Johnson, Ketchikan

Josh Fosi, Dimond

Kaleb Tompkins, Juneau

Michael Kluting, Palmer

Erik Kelly, Juneau

Class 4A girls

Alissa Pili, Dimond

Alexis Biggerstaff, Ketchikan

Azlynn Brandenburg, Wasilla

Eliah Anderson, Ketchikan

Jahnna Hadjukovich, Lathrop

Leya DePriest, Wasilla

Olivia Davies, Wasilla

Ruthy Hebard, West Valley

Tennae Voliva, East

Whitney Shapp, Dimond

3A boys

Jeremiah Bailey, Monroe Catholic

Kevin Goodwin, Barrow

Tobin Karlberg, Grace Christian

Mareng Gatkuoth, Anchorage Christian

Micah Helkenn, Delta Junction

Trevor Osborne, Grace Christian

Kamaka Hepa, Barrow

Jayvin Williams, Bethel

Travis Adams, Barrow

Gavin Jackson, Monroe Catholic

3A girls

Mary Hogan, Grace Christian

Alaina Wolgemuth, Barrow

Kayla Stafford, Homer

Romay Harris, Galena

Rose Mongoyak, Barrow

Sierra Tate, Hutchison

Julie Amaktoolik, Mt. Edgecumbe

Annie VanderWeide, Grace Christian

Aurora Waclawski, Homer

Kuutuuq Danner, Barrow

Sunday March 27, 2016
JDHS boys claim 4A crown - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     They say defense wins championships.

The old adage proved true for the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team Saturday night in the ASAA March Madness Alaska 4A state championship game as the Crimson Bears staved off Dimond High School for their first championship since 1998.

Juneau-Douglas downed Dimond 38-31 by blanketing their opponents with multiple defensive schemes that didn’t allow many open looks.

“I’m still in shock, honestly,” said JDHS senior Guy Bean. “I freaked out as soon as the game ended and I’ve been freaking out since. I can’t really describe how it feels, it’s just amazing.”

“It feels great, it feels really great,” added senior Kaleb Tompkins. “... Anything can happen. Once the final buzzer went off, that’s the only time I knew we won. Even then it didn’t really sink in.”

Down five pointswith a minute to go, Dimond senior Josh Fosi missed an ill-advised 3-pointer and JDHS’ Tompkins passed to Bean, who streaked down the court to earn a foul off of Dimond junior Anthony Parker. Bean hit the deck hard, but bounced up to split his shots from the line.

“We were on a fast break and I think either Kaleb (Tompkins) or Treyson (Ramos) threw it ahead to me and I saw the kid behind me coming up, I didn’t think he would actually foul me and I hit the ground, blacked out for a second and I got up and shot the free throws,” Bean said.

Anthony Parker would miss a step-back 3-pointer and the Lynx would lose their last possession on an over-and-back call leaving six seconds on the clock. JDHS senior Treyson Ramos split his free throws to close the game.

“When Treyson was shooting his free throws and we were up by six and he made the first one, that’s when I knew we were gonna be state champions,” Bean said.

Tompkins led all scorers with 13 points. Bean followed Tomkins in scoring for JDHS with nine, sophomore forward Erik Kelly added six, Ramos and junior forward Bryce Swofford both had four. Senior center Hunter Hickok added a big two points.

Dimond was led in defeat by senior Josh Fosi with 10 points, junior Anthony Parker with eight, junior Eric Jenkins with seven and senior Mason Merchant with two.

Bean was named player of the game for JDHS and Anthony Parker took home the award for Dimond.

JDHS’ offense started slow in their earlier state tournament games. Facing another likely low-scoring game, the boys came out determined to stifle Dimond’s attack, and simply shut down their Cook Inlet Conference opponents in the opening period. JDHS jumped to a six-point lead in the first quarter of a very low-scoring game and headed into the second up 12-6.

JDHS kept the momentum in the second. Swofford got one of his five blocks and Kelly earned a pair of big boards. The Crimson Bears moved the ball patiently on one play before finding an open Hunter Hickok for a huge two points under the basket to put JDHS up 19-10. Dimond’s Parker hit a free throw and a field goal to cut the lead to six, heading to the locker room 19-13.

“We certainly didn’t think the game was going to be played in the 30s,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “That’s not somewhere we’ve played at all this season for a final score. … I didn’t feel like it was an ugly game or a sloppy game, really two teams going at it, playing some great defense.”

The momentum would swing in Dimond’s favor in the third period, as JDHS got called for a charge and Dimond senior Mason Merchant hit a big 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. The Lynx held JDHS to four points in the quarter, and started the fourth down 28-26.

Tompkins summed up the win.

“Swofford held down the paint really well. Treyson played great defense. Erik (Kelly) got that cool dunk. Hunter (Hickok) played solid in the post. Guy Bean came up clutch. Our bench was amazing, too,” he said.

The road to the title

JDHS’ road to the state championship started in late December at the Doc Larson Roundball Classic at Wasilla High School. The Crimson Bears beat West Anchorage by a point and Wasilla by 12, but suffered the first of their two non-conference losses against Nevada’s Coronado High School.

The Crimson Bears then headed home for their annual holiday tournament, the Capital City Classic, and worked their way into the championship with wins over Hydaburg and Sitka. In the tournament’s title game, Washington state’s Kentlake High School scored eight unanswered points in the closing minutes to steal the title from the Crimson Bears’ claws.

The loss to Kentlake marked the last time JDHS fell to any team not named Ketchikan during the rest of the season.

JDHS guards Tompkins and Bean, whose familial relation put the literal family in their team’s self-described “family of teammates,” defined JDHS’ offense early in the season. Tompkins and Bean would take turns leading their team in scoring early on, and their hot shooting clued the Crimson Bears’ family into the fact that they had a chance at greatness.

JDHS would go on a six-game win streak in January, beating Thunder Mountain High School twice, Service High School once, and Kodiak High School twice. Juneau-Douglas averaged 17 points more than their opponents during the streak. The tear would culminate with a Jan. 29 win at Ketchikan High School, then ranked No. 1 in the state, a position the Crimson Bears would soon claim for themselves.

Kayhi, who ended their season ranked second in the state in Win Percentage Index (WPI) — trailing only JDHS — lost to the Crimson Bears 66-63 in the first of five matchups between the two. The Kings would break their rival’s win streak the following night, however, with a 73-57 win over JDHS, setting up a pattern of back-and-forth duals that would test — and galvanize — both units.

The Crimson Bears wouldn’t face another team outside of Region V for the rest of the season, and the level of competition brought by the Ketchikan Kings proved indispensable to their championship development.

“What is it they say about the strongest steel is forged in fire?,” coach Casperson said. “Those guys down in Ketchikan had a great season. We appreciate that it could have been them or somebody else that got this opportunity. We got better because we knew how good they were.”

JDHS would go nearly a month before losing again, taking down both of Sitka’s high schools, Sitka High School and Mt. Edgecumbe High School, three times each. JDHS won both at home and away during the two-week period. The results bore out for JDHS during the middle of their season, they would go on a seven-game win streak, but in the process of building a championship-contending resume, the Crimson Bears would develop a tendency to let big leads dwindle to slim margins late in games.

In a Feb. 25 home game against Mt. Edgecumbe High School, JDHS would let a 20-point lead slip to three points in the closing minutes. The Braves pressed JDHS into turnovers and missed shots down the stretch in a gutsy, inspired performance. The Crimson Bears should have dominated a team they far outmatched in size and skill, and coach Casperson felt the game was a “wake up call” for his guys, knowing that their offense couldn’t afford to slow down at any point during a game.

The February win streak marked another interesting development for the Crimson Bears, as Tompkins’ and Bean’s dominance on the stat sheets would give way to a more overall team performance. Junior Bryce Swofford — a 6’7” defensive powerhouse — began to make his mark offensively during the second half of the season. Senior guard Treyson Ramos and exciting sophomore Erik Kelly showcased their own offensive ability as the season progressed.

“Those guys have been leading scorers at different times during the year,” Casperson said. “A lot of people have been asking me ‘how can you only have one guy on the all-state team,’ … I can understand why other teams had a hard time picking out a second or third guy because it changed game to game.”

The development of JDHS bigs, and the 70-63 wake up call over Mt. Edgecumbe, couldn’t have come at a better time as JDHS next hosted Ketchikan High School for two games at home. The Crimson Bears wore Ketchikan down in the first game, proving to Casperson they had absorbed the lessons from the Mt. Edgecumbe.

JDHS brought intensity and determination to their first matchup, and closed their win against the Kings 72-64.

Though the Crimson Bears put together a good overall performance, they had help from Kelly, who threw down a play-of-the-year, one-handed alley-oop dunk that sucked the air out of Ketchikan’s offense. It was Kelly’s night on Feb. 26, as he led all scorers with 19 points in the win. With the 6’4” and growing Kelly, JDHS added yet another piece to their dangerously well-rounded team.

The Kings proved their own experience and determination in the second game, bringing down their conference rivals 63-69, and setting up a showdown at the conference tournament.

JDHS travelled to Mt. Edgecumbe for a March 5 meeting with Thunder Mountain High School, who the Crimson Bears bested 69-56. TMHS would pull a big upset against Ketchikan in the double elimination tournament, setting up a March 8 meeting with Juneau-Douglas for the conference title and an automatic bid to the state tournament. JDHS would beat TMHS 67-48 in the sixth win over their conference rivals during the season.

Sunday March 27, 2016
4A boys: Juneau wins first state basketball title since Carlos Boozer days - Alaska Dispatch News by Stephan Wiebe
     For the first time since Carlos Boozer roamed the court 18 years ago, the Juneau Crimson Bears are Class 4A boys basketball state champions.

After spending most of the tournament coming from behind, Juneau jumped out to an early lead and fought off a Dimond rally in the second half to defeat the Lynx 38-31 Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center. Before Saturday, the last time Juneau won a state title was 1998 when Boozer boosted the Crimson Bears to its second straight championship.

Saturday’s championship victory was the culmination of a long tournament road that included two wins in the closing seconds for the Crimson Bears.

“It means a lot for everyone — our town, our fans,” said Juneau’s Kaleb Tompkins, who scored eight of his game-high 13 points in the fourth quarter.

“We just pulled through in the end.”

Going into the tournament, none of the Juneau players had ever played at state, but it was Dimond that came out looking nervous. The Lynx missed several shots at the rim that they normally make.

Dimond’s Josh Fosi scored the first two buckets of the game, but the Lynx didn’t score again until the closing seconds of the first quarter and by then Juneau had built a 12-6 lead.

“There were a few times today we just got outside of what we really wanted to do,” Dimond coach Brad Lauwers said. “It’s kind of the magnitude of the moment.

“I thought over the course of the tournament we played with a lot of poise and without being nervous and I thought we were a little nervous tonight in the championship game.”

Juneau maintained its six-point lead in the second quarter and led 19-13 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Dimond finally fired back. The Lynx scored five quick points before Kylan Osborne flew in for a put-back to give Dimond a 20-19 lead.

“I told them that Dimond was gonna make a run, I told them that we had to be ready for that,” Juneau coach Robert Casperson said. “I’m proud of how our guys responded to that run and just kept working.”

Juneau caught momentum again later in the quarter with a steal and dunk by Erik Kelly.

In the fourth quarter, Dimond ran out of steam, scoring a measly three points.

“We caught a few breaks,” Casperson said. “We used our size on the boards ... Fortunately, they missed a few shots down the stretch.”

In the low-scoring game, Guy Bean was second in points for Juneau with nine. Kelly added six.

Bryce Swofford finished with four points and several big blocks, including two in one possession.

Fosi poured in 10 for the Lynx a day after scoring 28 against Ketchikan in the semifinals. Anthony Parker contributed eight points and Eric Jenkins tallied seven.

For Dimond fans, Saturday was rough for multiple reasons. Both Lynx teams lost in the state finals with the Dimond girls falling to Wasilla 44-40 earlier in the day.

“It’s like the Super Bowl, it’s hard to be the runner-up in the Super Bowl,” Lauwers said. “The reality is we had an outstanding season. We’re going to try to build on it … We’ll be motivated.”

Sunday March 27, 2016
Juneau Douglas Crimson Bears win Alaska State Basketball Championship - KINY Radio by Lori James
     Click on the link below or copy and paste it into a new browser for more coverage and audio interviews:

Saturday March 26, 2016
Juneau-Douglas Makes National News in USA Today
     The story of the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team is making it's way around the sports world...

Click the link below or copy and paste into a web browser:

Saturday March 26, 2016
Juneau, Tompkins beat buzzer against Ketchikan - ADN by Stephan Wiebe
     The basketball gods must be smiling upon the Juneau boys basketball team.

For the second straight game, Juneau came from behind to win in the final seconds, this time beating Southeast rival Ketchikan 42-40 Friday for a spot in the 4A state championship Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Juneau had taken a late lead, but a 3-pointer by Ketchikan’s Matt Standley tied the game at 40-40 with eight seconds remaining.

Juneau’s Kaleb Tompkins received the inbounds pass and dribbled down the court, twice almost losing control of the basketball. He corralled the ball each time he lost it, sliced into the lane and put up a jumper on the money as time expired. The Crimson Bears rushed the floor to celebrate their title game berth with Tompkins at midcourt.

“One of the things with Kaleb, he’s got a great head for the game, he’s a student of the game, he understands things really well,” Juneau coach Robert Casperson said. “He released that ball at the exact precise moment. He knew how much time he had. He didn’t panic when he had that ball knocked away.”

Tompkins didn’t just hit the game-winner, he put the Crimson Bears on his back in the fourth quarter. He scored Juneau’s final 12 points, including back-to-back treys that tied the game at with 3:32 remaining.

“He finished with 22 (points), so kept us in it,” Casperson said. “He’s done that for us at times — put us on his back and carried us when we need him too. He’s a very unselfish player.”

In the first half, Juneau struggled shooting the ball. The Crimson Bears shot a measly 23 percent from the floor to Ketchikan’s 47 percent, but they only trailed by four, 21-17.

“We got great looks right at the rim and they didn’t roll in for us,” Casperson said of his team’s first-half shooting. “While we didn’t make the shots, it still gave us the confidence that we could keep getting good shots, so we didn’t feel down on ourselves.”

Both teams struggled with foul trouble throughout the game with a combined 34 fouls committed. Juneau’s leading scorer in the Thursday’s quarterfinals, Bryce Swofford, fouled out in the critical closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Point guard Treyson Ramos was also in foul trouble for much of the game with four.

For Ketchikan, Nathan Bonck and Matt Standley each finished with four fouls, and Jason James — arguably the King’s best player — missed most of the first half with two early fouls.

Standley’s nine points led the Kings, who failed to get a player in double figures. James had six.

The state semifinals matchup was the sixth game of the season between two teams from Southeast. The teams split the regular four regular season contests and Juneau barely held off a huge Ketchikan comeback in the conference tournament.

Saturday, Juneau will try for its first state championship since 1998.

“At this point in the season, I don’t think we haven’t had a situation they haven’t experienced,” Casperson said. “I’m just really excited we get this chance to go play in the championship tomorrow against (Dimond).”

Saturday March 26, 2016
Kaleb Tompkins hits buzzer beater to send JDHS to state championship - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     JDHS boys best Ketchikan 42-40 in another nail-biter Friday night

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team made their families and fans nervous again, as they trailed Ketchikan nearly the entire semifinals game at the state tournament in Anchorage.

That is, until JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins hit a game-winning buzzer beater that punched his team’s ticket to Saturday’s championship game.

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.

“Whichever option it was, we wanted Kaleb (Tompkins) getting the ball,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “He didn’t panic, he kept that clock running in his head, and he took a legitimate shot at the basket where a lot of kids might have rushed something and thrown it up there. But once he saw that opening, he had a great follow through on the shot and dropped it home. It was one of the more impressive things I’ve seen out of a high school kid in my 17 years of coaching.”

JDHS won a low-scoring, physical 42-40 game against their experienced Southeast rivals.

The Crimson Bears started slowly again in the semifinal game, continuing a trend started Thursday against Bartlett in the quarter finals. JDHS was down 4-13 by the start of the second quarter.

The Crimson Bears found a little more offense in the second quarter, as Ketchikan had to sit starters Jason James and Matt Standley, who both had two fouls early in the second. Tompkins would hit a deep 3-pointer in the quarter and spur his team to a 13-8 run to finish the half down 17-21. The Crimson Bears shot a paltry 23 percent in the first half, mirroring their 21 percent first-half shooting against Bartlett the night before.

Coach Casperson talked about how Ketchikan held JDHS down in the first half.

“Ketchikan played a heck of a game,” he said. “They did a great job controlling the tempo and keeping the scoring down. Certainly we like to try to attack and score quickly. … It was a real grind-it-out kind of game,” Casperson said.

The physicality continued in the third quarter, with Ketchikan getting into foul trouble early. JDHS went 4-8 from the line in the quarter while Ketchikan hit 5-6. Ketchikan’s big man, Nathan Bonck, earned his fourth foul with 2:35 to go in the period and had to sit. Matt Standley earned his third but stayed in the game. Going into the final period, JDHS remained behind 27-30.

The fourth quarter belonged to JDHS’ second team all-state guard Tompkins (who also earned JDHS’ first tie of the game Thursday night on a 3-pointer with 3:20 to go in the final period). The Crimson Bears’ first lead of the game came on a nice up-and-under by Tompkins with 2:08 left. The breaks seemed to go JDHS’ way in the final period, as they earned key possessions off charges and travels.

But with 15 seconds left, Ketchikan’s all-conference guard Matt Standley had something to say before JDHS could enjoy the win. Down three points with the ball on JDHS’ baseline, Ketchikan’s Mo Bullock inbounded the ball to Standley who drained a contested three to tie the game 40-40 before Tompkins hit his game-winner.

“I thought we saw the light at the end of the tunnel there, and then Matt Standley comes back ­— he’s had a heck of a year, all-conference kid — and just drains that three on us. It was good defense, and even better offense,” Casperson said.

JDHS moves on to the championship tomorrow at 8 p.m. against Dimond High School. Dimond beat East Anchorage in their semifinal.

Casperson said his team will have their hands full with Dimond.

“Dimond is very well-coached,” he said. “They play a very solid game with ball control, they handle it real well, they don’t get rattled very easily. East Anchorage is a very athletic team, and they like to press and tried to turn them (Dimond) over a lot, and Dimond did a great job handling that,” Casperson said.

Friday March 25, 2016
In last-second comeback, JDHS wins first state tourney game in Anchorage by 1 point - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Sophomore Kolby Hoover hits game-winning shot

Bartlett made the game scrappy, but Juneau-Douglas High School harnessed some last-second heroics to pull a low-scoring, opening-round win at the state tournament.

The JDHS boys basketball team beat Bartlett 58-57 at the March Madness Alaska state basketball championships in Anchorage on Thursday.

The Crimson Bears trailed in all but the closing seconds of the match when sophomore Kolby Hoover — who played only a few minutes in relief for a fouled-out Treyson Ramos — hit a deep field goal with 1.7 seconds left.

As the buzzer sounded on Bartlett’s half-court desperation heave, Hoover, who doesn’t start, walked around in a daze as his teammates exhorted him. It didn’t seem to sink in that he just kept his team’s hopes alive for the state championship.

With 22 seconds to go, the Crimson Bears found themselves down 53-57. Kaleb Tompkins then dribbled down and hit a deep 3-pointer off the dribble to pull the game within a point. Bartlett missed their one-and-one free throw, and JDHS’ Tompkins got the rebound and found Kolby Hoover with a long pass.

Hoover hit a field goal from the left wing to give them their first and only — and winning — lead.

“Kaleb (Tompkins) drew basically a triple team on that last rebound, and as he was driving up the floor, made a nice pivot move and got out of the pressure to find Kolby (Hoover) on the long diagonal pass, and he drained it,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said.

JDHS was down 0-7 at the beginning of the contest as both teams played sloppy basketball to start.

“We didn’t shoot it very well in the first half at all,” Casperson said. “... We got good looks, we were attacking the basket (but) things weren’t falling. Could have been nerves, first game jitters, any of that. ... We definitely shot better in the second half and that made a huge difference for us.”

JDHS whittled the lead to two points in the second quarter only to drop back 20-30 before halftime. In the third, JDHS would go down by as many as 14 points before making a comeback off the good play of Erik Kelly, Bryce Swofford and Kaleb Tompkins.

Down 10 most of the third quarter, Treyson Ramos hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to bring the game within six going into the fourth.

Bryce Swofford seemed to be the only player who played his usual game as the 6’7” big man worked against a smaller Bartlett team. The junior used his size advantage to get to the line repeatedly, and keep his team within striking distance as the clock wound down.

“He started going inside more in the second half, and that’s one of the things we talked about early in the game, was that we had a size advantage and we needed to attack them inside,” Casperson said.

JDHS faces Ketchikan tomorrow in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m. The championship game will be held on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Thursday March 24, 2016
Class 4A: Juneau boys defeat Bartlett in wild finish - Alaska Dispatch News by Stephan Wiebe
     Juneau trailed or was tied with Bartlett for 31 minutes and 58.3 seconds of the first-round Class 4A boys basketball game between the Crimson Bears and Golden Bears on Thursday at the Alaska Airlines Center.

It led for the 1.7 seconds that mattered most.

Juneau sophomore Kolby Hoover nailed the go-ahead bucket with time winding down — his only field goal of the game — and Kage Freelove’s desperation half-court heave was off at the buzzer for Bartlett. Juneau won 58-57 to advance in the state tournament.

It was a good day for teams from Southeast Alaska and a disappointing day for teams from the Valley. Ketchikan advanced with a 71-50 win over Wasilla and Dimond dumped Palmer 55-42. In the other first-round game, East swamped West Valley 90-66 to give Anchorage a pair of teams in Friday's semifinals.

None of those games matched the drama of Juneau-Bartlett.

“For Kolby Hoover to come on as a sophomore there at the end, our left-handed kid, to drive in a tough defense (and) get that shot to drop — that’s a great opportunity for him,” Juneau coach Robert Casperson said.

For most of the game, Bartlett was in control. The Golden Bears scored the first seven points and never trailed until that final 1.7 seconds.

Bartlett had several big runs and led 30-20 at halftime. But every time the Golden Bears looked like they would blow it open, Juneau inched its way back with solid play at the free-throw line and in the paint.

The Crimson Bears didn’t shoot a particularly high percentage from the line — only 59 percent — but they got to the line 22 times compared to six for Bartlett.

Juneau also used its superior height in the post. Bryce Swofford, a 6-foot-7 junior, led the Crimson Bears with 21 points, 6-5 Kaleb Tompkins added 14 and 6-4 Erik Kelly tallied 10.

Casperson said working the ball inside was the primary talking point at halftime.

“Bryce’s first touch on offense in the second half was at the 3-point line and he bombed a 3,” Casperson said. “So he got a quick sub right away and we had to clarify what it meant for him to go inside. I think he got the message and did great for us down the stretch.”

Casperson said he knows his team was lucky to get the win in a game where Bartlett appeared to be in complete control.

Ryan Trailer led the Golden Bears with 18 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter, and Bentiu Panoam (12 points) and Anthony Camacho (11) scored on several fast breaks to the rim.

“The Bartlett kids played terrific,” Casperson said. “They just played a great game and controlled the tempo. They broke us down and got their layups. We are very fortunate … to have survived that opportunity.”

Bartlett had its largest lead of 14 points midway through the third quarter. Juneau responded with an 11-0 run that included 3-pointers by Treyson Ramos and Guy Bean.

Leading up to the crazy finish, Tompkins hit a long trey with 15.3 seconds remaining get Juneau within one point, 57-56. The Crimson Bears fouled Trailer right after the Bartlett inbound pass, and Trailer missed his first free throw of the potential one-and-one, which led to Hoover’s go-ahead jumper.

Juneau is making its first state-tournament appearance in four years. The Crimson Bears last qualified for the state tournament in 2012, where they lost to Service by one point in the first round.

Wednesday March 23, 2016
All-conference, all-state honors announced - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Four of Juneau’s high school basketball players and a coach have been recognized for state and regional honors this year. Alongside Juneau’s basketball standouts were a slew of other 2A, 3A and 4A Southeast players.

Juneau-Douglas High School senior Kaleb Tompkins made second team all-state while Thunder Mountain High School senior, and Kaleb’s cousin, senior Ava Tompkins, made third team all-state. JDHS senior Guy Bean and TMHS junior Chase Saviers were nominated to Southeast’s all-conference team.

In addition to the players, JDHS boys head coach Robert Casperson was honored as coach of the year by the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches.

JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins led his team to the state tournament as the No. 1 seed. After growing three inches over the summer to 6’5”, Tompkins has come into his own as one of the state’s premier guards.

Tompkins is a humble player, and when asked about his individual accolades, gave all the credit to his coaches, parents and teammates.

“It feels pretty good. My teammates and coaches brought me here. I’ve been working hard, and my teammates push me a lot,” he said in an interview Saturday.

Kaleb’s coach, Robert Casperson, elaborated on Kaleb’s evolution as a player: “Kaleb has been extremely dedicated to improving in the offseason. ... He’s a kid that I think leads us in assists and steals because he anticipates and sees the floor so well on both sides of the ball. Part of that, too, is that drive he’s had in practice the last two years, for him coming up with the older guys he’s had to work against. This group he plays with now, they push him, they challenge him.”

Casperson added, “I thought it was great that he and his cousin Guy Bean made all-conference.”

TMHS senior Ava Tompkins finishes a historic career for the Falcons with her third team all-state honors. Ava has been a four-year starter on the varsity team, and has become one of only three female Falcons players to amass over 1,000 career points. Ava carried a young Falcons squad this year, leading her team in scoring almost every game. Though the results often weren’t what the Falcons wanted (they finished 3 and 20), Tompkins played with an unmatched talent and fire.

“It feels good because it’s the top 15 players in the state, so I definitely appreciate the nod. I’d like to thank my dad, because he’s the one who pushed me for the last god knows how many years, and then my team. We had a tough season, but they kept their heads up with me and kept working the whole time,” she said.

Thunder Mountain head coach Tanya Nizich said of Tompkins: “From her freshman year it was safe to say she would be a shining star at Thunder Mountain. ... She definitely has the mindset of going out not just playing to play — she’s playing to win. Unfortunately, we did not have a season to show for that with a winning record, but she played her part in last year’s season when we did very well and made it to state. For not having a good record and still being acknowledged, this is a great thing,” Nizich said.

Chase Saviers and Guy Bean seemed to score at will during the 2016 season. Both are two of the best perimeter shooters on their teams. They were nominated to the all-conference team along with Kaleb Tompkins and Ketchikan High School seniors Mo Bullock, Matt Standley and Jason James.

JDHS coach Robert Casperson said he felt honored by the selection as Alaska’s 4A boys coach of the year.

“It’s truly an honor,” he said. “I know there are a lot of hard-working coaches in the state at all levels and at the 4A level especially, so for me to be selected by my peers I am truly grateful. I would certainly say that this is not an award just for me; this is based on the guys and how they play and the things that they’ve done so far this year. It’s also a reflection of the improvement they’ve made over the years.”

Other Southeast hoopsters honored were:

4A Girls - Third team: Eliah Anderson, Ketchikan; Alexis Biggerstaff, Ketchikan.

4A Boys - Second team: Jason James, Ketchikan. Third team: Mo Bullock, Ketchikan.

3A Girls - First team: Zoe Krupa, Sitka; Payton Weisz, Mt. Edgecumbe.

3A Boys - Second team: Tevin Bayne, Sitka.

2A Girls - Player of the Year: Kylie Wallace, Petersburg. Coach of the Year: Dino Brock, Petersburg. First team: Kylie Wallace, Petersburg. Second team: Kayley Swinton, Haines; Ruby Brock, Petersburg. Third team: Aspen Hansen, Craig; Amy Jensen, Wrangell.

2A Boys - First team: Stewart Conn, Petersburg. Second team: Danny Marsden, Metlekatla; Blake Stokes, Wrangell. Third team: Wolf Brooks, Petersburg; Zavier Ghormley, Metlakatla.

Tuesday March 22, 2016
No. 1 seed JDHS boys prepare for state tournament - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     The last time the Juneau-Douglas High School boys won a state basketball title was when Carlos Boozer ran roughshod over anyone with the unenviable assignment of guarding him. No. 1 seed JDHS plans to change that starting Thursday at the 2015-2016 March Madness Alaska Basketball State Championships.

The Crimson Bears face Bartlett High School in a first-round matchup at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Anchorage. Though Bartlett is the tournament’s bottom seed, Juneau-Douglas is preparing for a battle: No team in this year’s bracket is a pushover, and Bartlett has a first team all-state player in 6’2” guard Bentiu Ponoam.

Senior guard Kaleb Tompkins has his focus on the task at hand.

“We have to contain him (Ponoam) but not overlook the rest of their team; play team defense and box out,” Tompkins said, adding, “Being the number one seed doesn’t really matter; We have to beat all the best teams to win. … I feel like we can still get better, we still have things to improve on.”

Senior guard Treyson Ramos: “I’m pretty pumped up. ... Being number one won’t matter until the end.”

At practice all week, JDHS head coach Robert Casperson has been emphasizing taking the tournament “one game at a time,” ensuring that nobody on his squad makes the mistake of overlooking Bartlett.

“We’ve faced good athletes all season long, we certainly want to work on containing the ball handler, but it’s not an individual effort. We’re going to have to be aware of him (Ponoam) wherever he is on the floor, be ready to rotate and help out — and help the help — or he’s gonna beat us off the dribble,” Casperson said.

A self-described family, this year’s unit of Crimson Bears players are experienced, big and industrious. All of these attributes were on display at their last full week of practice. JDHS practiced hard, keeping one another accountable without being prodded by their coaches. Underlying all the hard work was a sense of fun.

Casperson says his team’s closeness off the court has led to their selflessness on court.

“They don’t really care who scores, it’s a very unselfish group. Typically our leading scorer has been Kaleb (Tompkins), but our second and third guys rotate through. Bryce (Swofford) has had 20-point games, Erik Kelly has been up there at 20, Treyson (Ramos) has been up to 18 a couple different times, Guy Bean has had multiple 20-point games. … They look for each other and whoever has it going, they’ll keep feeding him.”

If JDHS does make it past Bartlett, they’ll face the winner of a Wasilla-Ketchikan matchup in the semifinals. The Crimson Bears have played both teams this year, beating Wasilla 69-57 in December and winning three of five matchups against Ketchikan in the regular season and Region V tournament. The semifinals tip off at 3:30 p.m. Friday; the championship game is at 8 p.m. Saturday.

All March Madness Alaska Basketball State Championship games can be streamed online at

For the record, JDHS’ last title was in the 1997-1998 season. Juneau has 11 titles in the 88-year history of Alaska high school basketball.

Saturday March 12, 2016
Crimson Bears claim region crown - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     JDHS earns trip to state tournament

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team left no room for an upset to Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, beating their crosstown rivals by a 19-point margin for the Region V 4A title and a trip to the state tournament.

The Crimson Bears won 67-48, leading from the opening minute to the final buzzer in a game where the Falcons couldn’t generate much offense. The state’s No. 1-ranked Crimson Bears resolved to play their best defense in the title match, according to head coach Robert Casperson.

“The teammates want to focus on each other, which is what I tell them because that allows them to forget about the crowd or the situation; whether it’s rotating on defense, setting screens, that’s been our focus for the last couple of weeks,” he said, adding that the “comradery with this group is second to none. They’ve come a long way.”

JDHS was led by senior Kaleb Tompkins with 21 points. Junior Bryce Swofford followed Tompkins with 14 and senior Treyson Ramos added 12.

TMHS was led by junior Chase Saviers with 19 points. Saviers was TMHS’ focal point on offense, as no other Falcon scored more than seven points.

“Everybody knows he’s our go-to guy this season,” Falcons coach John Blasco said. “He’s a fierce competitor and doesn’t want to lose. He hit a three in the second and he knew he had the green light to try another. He ended up with three in the quarter. That was huge for us.”

TMHS earned their only lead off a Saviers free throw to open the game. JDHS established a 27-10 lead in the second, but the Falcons would trim that to 33-23 by half off the hot hands of Saviers.

The Crimson Bears have let leads dwindle in the third and fourth quarters this year, letting Ketchikan, Thunder Mountain and Mt. Edgecumbe back into regular season games they should have put away. JDHS had no intentions of jeopardizing their lead in the region title game, however, as Bryce Swofford deflected an inbounds pass, stormed down the court and scored on an and-one play to start the third quarter.

“That really set the tone for us in the second half, and our guys fed off that initial play with our defense,” Casperson said.

JDHS would hold Thunder Mountain to nine points in the third while scoring 17 of their own to go up 50-32 by the start of the fourth quarter. The Falcons closed the game with their best scoring period, putting up 16, but couldn’t slow down JDHS, who score 17 in the final period.

The Crimson Bears earned the right to play in the March Madness Alaska State Championships starting March 24. Eight teams will converge on Anchorage to find out who is Alaska’s best 4A squad.

Casperson said his team isn’t finished yet.

“One of their goals this season was to win the region and get to state,” he said. “Some groups get really excited, and these guys really enjoyed this win, but they’re still looking forward. They know there’s more out there and more available to them. They’re still hungry.”

TMHS coach John Blasco wished JDHS luck.

“We wish them all the best up in state,” he said. “We’re excited for them to go in as a top seed.”

Friday March 11, 2016
JDHS 66, Kayhi 61 - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Two of the highest-ranked teams in the state faced off at the Region V 4A tournament on Wednesday, and the showdown did not disappoint.

The No. 1-ranked Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team lived up to their reputation with a 64-61 win over No. 2 Ketchikan High School. JDHS put Kayhi on their heels early, building a 22-point lead by the third quarter. Kayhi responded with a flurry of fourth-quarter buckets to come within a point in the final minute.

Though JDHS has come close to losing big leads before, head coach Robert Casperson felt this one could be attributed to Ketchikan’s excellent second-half play.

“They were on fire for a stretch in the third quarter, making everything they put up. They’re a really good team, they’re not just going to back down or roll over. They kept coming, they showed their competitive spirit.”

JDHS senior Kaleb Tompkins led all scorers with 24 points, followed by senior Treyson Ramos with 11. Seniors Guy Bean and Molo Maka added 10 and eight, respectively.

Ketchikan was led in defeat by senior Isaac Johnson with 18, senior Mo Bullock with 12 and senior Jason James with 11.

JDHS played a consistent game offensively, scoring 14 and 20 in the first and second periods, and 14 and 18 in the third and fourth. Ketchikan’s offense took all game to warm up, as they scored eight in the first, 11 in the second, and 18 and 24 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

Ketchikan started the fourth quarter at an 11-point deficit, but rallied late to tie the game at 49-49 with four minutes to go. JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins hit a clutch and-one bucket with 2:16 left and then went to the line to hit two more on their next possession to put JDHS up 58-53 with less than a minute to go. Ketchikan was forced to foul to preserve the clock and JDHS hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the game with a three-point advantage.

Thursday March 10, 2016
Crimson Bears beat Falcons at Region V tourney - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team beat Thunder Mountain High School in the first round of the Region V tournament at Mount Edgecumbe High School on Tuesday.

The Crimson Bears, who held a 20-point advantage in the second quarter, cruised to a 69-56 win, earning the right to play Ketchikan today at 4:45 p.m. JDHS held the lead the entire game, using their size advantage to outplay TMHS on the glass. A revolving cast of scorers have led JDHS this season, and senior guard Kaleb Tompkins played the lead role on Tuesday with 21 points.

TMHS found a bit of hope in the third quarter, briefly trimming the lead to nine points. Crimson Bears coach Robert Casperson remains confident in his team’s play, but wants to see his boys keep their intensity throughout.

“This group can be an enigma when it comes to that,” he said. “They come out like gangbusters in the first half, then we go through that lull in the third quarter and the game gets interesting again. I never felt the game was in jeopardy, but it got closer than it needed to.”

Following Tompkins’ 21 points, JDHS was led by senior guard Treyson Ramos with 12, sophomore forward Erik Kelly with 11, junior forward Bryce Swofford with nine and senior guard Guy Bean with eight.

TMHS has played in one of the toughest conferences in the state this year, with both Juneau-Douglas (currently ranked No. 3 in the state) and Ketchikan (ranked No. 4) sitting atop the Region V leaderboards. Coach John Blasco’s team always play until the buzzer, but the Falcons felt they could have played much better.

“We didn’t execute anything we wanted and they’re knocking down good shots, taking it right at us, building a real comfortable lead,” he said. “I appreciate guys not quitting in the second half, but 20 points is a lot to overcome against a good team.”

Falcons senior forward Moa Maka is one of his team’s best shooters, and led TMHS with 14 points including two 3-point shots. Junior guard Chase Saviers had 10 points, and senior guard RJ Manning added nine.

The Crimson Bears hit nine 3-pointers in the contest, with most of those coming on inside-out plays. The Falcons made five from beyond the arc.

Monday March 07, 2016
JDHS boys complete season sweep of Falcons - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Juneau-Douglas closes regular season with senior night win

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team played up to their reputation in every respect Saturday, closing their regular season with a fourth win over Thunder Mountain High School.

The Crimson Bears came out looking for a more decisive win than Friday’s victory, and showcased their speed, rebounding and hustle in a 74-50 win that has carried them to the top of the Region V 4A standings. From the start of the game, JDHS displayed a balanced attack and tenacious defense, forcing turnovers from a Thunder Mountain squad known for their guard play.

Graduating seniors Kaleb Tompkins, Treyson Ramos and Guy Bean all had good nights, leading their team in points with 23, 13 and 10 respectively.

Thunder Mountain was led by junior Chase Saviers with 18, and senior Shane Mielke with 14.

Thunder Mountain started the game in good form, and kept the game at a seven-point deficit going into halftime. Down the stretch the Crimson Bears earned too many and-one plays for Thunder Mountain to overcome, putting the game out of reach after a third quarter push. Going into the fourth the Falcons were down 20 points and in the double bonus.

TMHS coach John Blasco’s team played hard through the buzzer, but couldn’t find the offensive life they needed in the fourth.

“We fouled more than any team in the state, they attacked the basket and we put them on the line. … They had three or four and-ones in the third. We gotta stop putting guys on the line,” Blasco said.

Both teams face off again in the Region V tournament at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday in Sitka.

Senior night sentiments

The Crimson Bears boys graduate five seniors this year: Hunter Hickok, Kaleb Tompkins, Molo Maka, Treyson Ramos and Guy Bean. The boys have been playing together since their youth days with Hoop Rats, and share as much chemistry off the court as they do on the court. The Empire caught up with all five players to talk about what it felt like to play their last home game.

“It felt weird. Honestly, it was kind of sad,” Bean said. “Every time I did something, like in pregame warmups, I was thinking, ‘This is the last time I’ll be doing this on our home court.’”

Said Ramos: “When all our parents came out it was kind of happy and sad, bittersweet. Knowing everybody was there, it was a fun game.”

Said Maka: “I was happy being here with everyone, with the coaches and the teammates I have.”

Said Hickock: “It’s not over yet. This is my only year. The coaches have had a huge impact and we’ve had a lot of fun.”

Tompkins has been in the program for four years, and stressed that he feels like his teammates are family.

The boys wanted to thank: Dr. Doug, coach Casperson, coach Sleppy, coach Kriegmont, Caitlynn Rich, David Timothy, all of their parents, the coaches that retired last year, the pep band, dance team, cheerleaders and many others.

Tomkins, Bean and Ramos wanted to leave their younger teammates with a piece of advice: “Cherish every moment, stay close as a team and make your teammates family.”

Friday's game: JDHS 68, TMHS 53

The Thunder Mountain boys basketball team had Juneau-Douglas High School right where they wanted them on Friday.

Up by a mere five points going into the fourth, the Crimson Bears pushed their lead to 15 in the final period and held on to a 68-53 win over the Falcons at home.

TMHS played one of their best games this season, with several different lineups keeping JDHS a bit disorganized on offense. The turbulent play helped the Falcons stay within striking distance of the state’s No. 1 ranked prep basketball team. The Falcon’s all-team effort wouldn’t be enough, however, to overcome JDHS’ excellent play in the paint.

“They tried to disrupt what we were looking to do, especially in the first few quarters,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “We know we have size and we want to try and attack the rim, get the ball inside for post opportunities, and they did a good job early in the game taking that stuff away. We became a little more patient as the game went on and that created some opportunities for us.”

The Crimson Bears bigs once again led the show, a development which has helped JDHS become a dangerously well-rounded team. Six-foot-seven junior Bryce Swofford tied senior teammate Kaleb Tompkins for a team-leading 22 points.

Swofford credited his teammates for helping him become a focal point on offense.

“We’ve been running our offense a little bit better, and it’s been helping me to get better looks,” he said. “We played our game … it made it a lot easier for us to play against them.”

Thunder Mountain brought a huge student section to the game on Friday, at times drowning out any communication on the court. Swofford added that it’s not easy playing in such an environment, but it’s good training for conference and state tournaments.

“It’s hard to hear people talking, calling out plays,” he said, adding that before post-season play his team needs to work on “getting used to that loud atmosphere.”

Behind Swofford and Tompkins, JDHS was led by senior Hunter Hickok and sophomore Kolby Hoover with six points each.

Thunder Mountain junior Noah Reishus-O’Brien had a massive game offensively, scoring a game-leading 24 points. He was followed by senior teammate Finn Collins with eight, junior Chase Saviers with six, and senior Moa Maka with six.

Though the buckets were hard to come by for the Falcons, Reishus-O’Brien played his best game this season.

“I stopped thinking about shooting, and just more getting to the rim and finishing shots,” he said.

Reishus-O’Brien made a point to credit the efforts of TMHS’ extended cast.

“A lot of our players stepped up,” he said. “We had Finn (Collins) boxing out and getting rebounds, Moa (Maka) stepped up, Chase (Saviers) hit some good shots. We had some good rotations and ball movement.”

The game started out with underdog Falcons bringing the intensity to the Crimson Bears, earning a 15-13 lead to start the game. Juneau-Douglas overtook that lead early in the second on their way to a 31-22 halftime advantage.

The Falcons would bounce back in the third, pushing the game to five points off an 8-2 run to close the quarter. The Falcons got into the bonus early, however, allowing JDHS to get to the line 14 times in the second half, hitting 11 of those.

Visiting Ketchikan referee Steve Kimble took an inadvertent shot to the nose on the opening tip of the game, prompting a game-stoppage. Kimble stuck the game out, modeling a toughness fans of both teams admired.

Sunday February 28, 2016
JDHS boys split series with Kings - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     In what’s proving to be the state’s biggest inter-conference rivalry this year, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team lost to Ketchikan High School on Saturday to split a weekend series of home games.

JDHS lost to Kayhi 69-63 as the Kings established an early intensity that JDHS couldn’t match, and with the win Kayhi retained control of the Southeast Conference leaderboard. Both teams played a physical, punishing style usually reserved for conference and state tournament matchups. With the conference lead at stake, however, neither team held anything back as three players would foul out by the final buzzer.

Ketchikan senior Jason James led his team with 22 points. As one of the Kings’ captains, James knew he had to pilot Kayhi’s weekend turnaround.

“Yesterday we were really rough and slow and we weren’t playing any defense, so tonight we had to come out and prove what kind of team we really are,” James said. The senior guard expected a physical game out of JDHS. “This was like a region championship game, they’re going to be calling things less and it’s going to be very physical.”

In addition to James’ 22 points, Ketchikan was led by senior Mo Bullock with 16, junior Jake Smith with 10, and senior Matthew Standley with eight.

JDHS senior Kaleb Tompkins led all scorers with 28 points. Sophomore teammate Erik Kelly had 14, and sophomore Kolby Hoover added eight.

After going down 14 points in the first quarter, Juneau-Douglas would come within striking distance of Ketchikan by halftime. Sophomore Kolby Hoover hit a buzzer-beater putback to send the Crimson Bears to the locker room down 31-26. Ketchikan built their lead back in the third, finishing the period up by 13. Crimson Bears head coach Robert Casperson found it hard to break that five-point barrier.

“We had a couple opportunities to cut it down to five and we could never get any closer than that,” he said. “They made the plays they needed to, they got the stop and the rebound when they needed to, or they went down and got the bucket and the foul. They did a good job, especially on the boards.”

The Crimson Bears would make another push in the fourth, trimming the lead to seven points with a minute to go. JDHS’s Tompkins nailed a clutch three to give his team a chance in the closing seconds, but Kayhi hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

As JDHS looks forward to their last weekend of regular season matchups, Ketchikan (18-4) holds a slight edge over Juneau Douglas (17-4), which would have been ameliorated by a JDHS win.

The Crimson Bears play two games against Thunder Mountain next weekend at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Ketchikan wrapped up their regular season and will next play during the Southeast Conference tournament March 9-12 in Sitka.

Friday's game: JDHS 72, Kayhi 64

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team clawed their way to a win against No. 4-ranked Ketchikan High School in spectacular fashion on Friday: stealing, dunking and blocking their way to a win over the Southeast Conference powerhouse.

JDHS beat Ketchikan 72-64 in the first of two all-important conference battles this weekend. The Crimson Bears’ played some of their best basketball all year: ball-handlers Treyson Ramos and Kaleb Tompkins kept Kayhi’s talented guards quiet while big men Bryce Swofford and Erik Kelly produced offensively.

Sophomore Erik Kelly had a huge night, leading all scorers with 19 points. In the second quarter Kelly treated the home crowd to a monster, one-handed alley-oop jam off an assist from Bryce Swofford. Kelly showcased the kind of acrobatics Juneau basketball fans haven’t seen for a long time in Southeast, and made a statement Friday that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

“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.

The Crimson Bears’ win was a total team effort, but even head coach Robert Casperson recognized the special nature of Kelly’s dunk.

“I wish I could say that was just another two points for us but it was a pretty special play for a high school group to make, and certainly not something we’ve seen in Southeast since, well, probably since (Carlos) Boozer’s days,” he said.

Following Kelly’s game-leading 19 points was senior Ramos with 16, senior Tompkins with 13, junior Swofford with 12 and senior Guy Bean with eight.

Ketchikan was led by junior Jake Smith with 15, junior Jason James with 13, seniors Matthew Standley and Nathan Bonck with 12 each, and senior Mo Bullock with 11.

Kayhi was disappointed with the loss, but will look to bounce back Saturday night in their second match with JDHS.

“We knew it was going to be intense, we know they’re a good team,” Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen said. “We have to clean some things up and play better (Saturday). … They rebounded well in the first half, which led to some baskets in transition. The key in a game like this is easy baskets and I thought they got more easy baskets than we did.”

Ketchikan has every right to be confident going into Saturday’s game, as their Friday match was tight throughout. The Crimson Bears came out looking to establish an early lead and succeeded, but Kayhi stayed within three points for nearly the entire first half, leading to a halftime score of 41-38.

At the beginning of the third quarter the Crimson Bears were able to make a 12-1 scoring run and buy some breathing room, putting them up by as many as 14 and leading to a 60-49 advantage going into the final period. Ketchikan then had a run of their own to start the fourth, with Smith hitting a pair of clutch 3-pointers. Down the stretch neither team allowed any easy buckets, with the last eight scoring plays coming from the free-throw line.

Thursday February 25, 2016
JDHS slips past Mt. Edgecumbe - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Braves battle back from 20-point deficit

The Mt. Edgecumbe High School boys basketball team found themselves down 20 points against Juneau-Douglas High School on Thursday, yet forced a three-point game in the closing seconds of the match in a gutsy, inspired performance.

The Crimson Bears held on for the home win, 70-63. JDHS exercised control of the match offensively until the fourth quarter, when Mt. Edgecumbe head coach Archie Young exhorted his team to “make the game ugly.” The Braves then applied a brutal full-court press, which helped them go on an 18-4 scoring run in the final period.

Young said he was happy with his team’s effort, but was as surprised as anyone to see them make such a comeback.

“I’m gonna go ask them where that came from. Whatever it was, I hope they continue to do it,” he said. On his team’s “ugly” style down the stretch, Young added: “If we try to play a half-court game with them, they will beat us. We have to make it sloppy with quick shots and scrambling defense.”

Mt. Edgecumbe senior Paul Bioff led all scorers with 24 points. Junior teammate Bobby Pate had 20 and junior John Housler added seven.

JDHS was led by senior Kaleb Tompkins with 14, junior Bryce Swofford with 12, senior Guy Bean with 11, senior Hunter Hickok with nine, and senior Treyson Ramos with eight.

“Mt. Edgecumbe’s kids play hard no matter what,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said of the Brave’s comeback. “They don’t care whether they are up 20 or down 20.”

The Crimson Bears are moving on to their last four regular season games before the Southeast Conference tournament to be played in Sitka. Casperson expressed intentions to use their narrow win as motivation.

“I think it was a truly good wake-up call for us as we move forward on our last four conference games of the year.” he said.

JDHS went on to face Ketchikan for two games this past weekend at home. The bouts were an Alaska prep basketball showdown, as JDHS was ranked second in the state coaches poll when they entered and Ketchikan ranked fourth. JDHS and Kayhi are the Southeast Conference’s two leading teams.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play them again, it’s been a while,” Casperson said. “We’ve gotten better since then and I think they’ve gotten better, too. We’re looking forward to the big crowd.”

The first 200 fans at Saturday’s game were admitted for free. State Farm’s Chad Erikson sponsored the Crimson Bears for a Pack the Gym night at JDHS.