Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears boys will be opening the Alaska Airlines Classic at West Anchorage High School against Alaska's most accomplished high school basketball program from Bettye Davis East Anchorage.
"To be successful we will need to minimize our turnovers," JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. "We will need to shoot a high percentage and win the battle of the boards."
East has won 16 Alaska School Activities Association state championships and the Crimson Bears are next in line with 12.
East went 17-0 last season and won the Alaska School Activities Association state championship.
JDHS was 17-1 last season and never had the chance to decide who was the state’s best as the Juneau School District COVID mitigation policy ended the Crimson Bears season after winning the Region V Southeast Conference championship over Ketchikan, who had given the Crimson Bears their lone loss earlier in the season but whom the Crimson Bears defeated handily in the title clash.
East is 8-0 this season and, when you add their 8-0 start in 2020 before COVID shut down the basketball season, the Thunderbirds have a 33 game win streak coming into today’s tip-off.
JDHS is 3-4 on the season.
The only common opponent this season has been Eagle River. JDHS fell to the Wolves 70-62 in the Capital City Classic on Dec. 28. East beat Eagle River 86-42 at the Wolves den on Jan. 18.
East has been dominating northern opponents with wins over Grace Christian 64-55 and 62-43, Palmer 55-39, Dimond 64-44, Chugiak 90-32, Bartlett 80-21 and Ketchikan 67-27.
JDHS has defeated East's Cook Inlet Conference rival West 68-48 this season but their schedule, aside from a win over Kotzebue 76-39, has been games at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas where they lost to Amplus (NV) 42-30, lost to Somerset (NV) 64-62, lost to Coral Academy (NV) 72-61 and defeated Moapa Valley (NV) 63-58.
JDHS coach Casperson said the Tarkanian Classic, and a visit from JDHS alum Carlos Boozer - a former Duke University and NBA player - opened his players eyes to talent levels.
"It was our first action of the season and we had first game mistakes," Casperson said. "But we made a lot of progress and had a lot of good things done as well. We know we need to play our game no matter who the opponent is and adapt to them as the game progresses."
Juneau fans will recognize the names of the Thunderbirds top players from a few months ago when the East Thunderbirds topped the Juneau Huskies 30-17 on the gridiron for the ASAA football state title: 6-foot/170-pound senior wide receiver/free safety Damarion Delaney, 6-foot-1/180-pound senior wide receiver/corner back Deuce Zimmerman, and 220-pound senior fullback/middle linebacker Elijah Reed are mainstays of the East hyper speed defense. Those three also played on last season’s state hoops championship team, as did 6-foot-1/180-pound junior hoops guard Axel Carpio and 5-foot-10/150-pound senior hoops guard Daion Doughty.
Also crossing over from the turf to the court are football all-state tournament selection, 5-foot-10/175-pound senior quarterback/cornerback Kyler Johnson, who also played on the state champion hoops team. Also putting away cleats for sneakers are 165-pound senior guard Markeite Henry and 175-pound junior center/wide receiver Deshawn Rushmeyer.
The JDHS boys game against East will be broadcast live on 107.9 The Hawk sports radio as will all their games in the Alaska Airlines Classic and updated on the KINY website.
The JDHS girls game tonight against Colony at 7 p.m. will be broadcast on KINY radio as will the Thunder Mountain girls against Colony on Friday at 6:15 p.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and updated on KINY.