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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

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.


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

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.


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


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

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.


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 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.