By CRAIG GIAMMONA
Sentinel Staff Writer
The Mt. Edgecumbe Braves downed Juneau-Douglas 44-42 Saturday night to earn Southeast bragging rights, winning a hard-fought and thrilling crossover game that capped five days of Region V basketball at JDHS.
The Braves, coming off a 72-58 win over Sitka in the 3A title game Friday night, led most of the way in front of a packed crowd in the state capital and held on for a 2-point win in a game that came down to the final ticks of the clock.
Trailing 25-20 at the half, Juneau-Douglas took its first lead of the game in the third quarter at 30-29. Edgecumbe ended the frame on a 4-0 run to go back up 33-30.
It was back-and-forth for most of the fourth quarter as the Juneau student section finally got into the game. The atmosphere was electric down the stretch and Juneau had the ball down 41-39 with about 35 seconds to go. After running the clock down for about 20 seconds, Tony Yadao pulled up for a step back three that was off the mark. Off an Edgecumbe rebound, Savion Waters threw out an outlet pass ahead to Zach Ivanoff, who bounced it to a wide-open Dominique Hall in the lane.
Hall’s bucket put the Braves up 43-39 with 10 seconds to go, but the game wasn’t over. This time, Yadao nailed a tough three with Waters all over him in the corner. Yadao’s swish made it 43-42 with 2.3 seconds left.
After two Juneau fouls put Edgecumbe in the bonus, Travante Williams went to the line with 0.3 seconds left in the game to shoot a one-and-one.
Williams made the first to put Edgecumbe up 44-42, and after a timeout he intentionally missed the second shot. But Williams did not hit the rim, on the second shot and the ball went back to Juneau underneath hoop. No time had elapsed, leaving the Crimson Bears with 0.3 seconds. They needed a miracle and nearly got one.
Sophomore Phillip Fenumiai, the starting quarterback for the Crimson Bears football team, rifled a strike toward the paint at the other end of the court. The ball was tipped by Colin Gozelski, a wide receiver at JDHS, but hit the front rim and fell off.
sounded and the Mt. Edgecumbe students and cheerleaders streamed onto the court
to celebrate the Japonski Island boarding school’s first crossover game win.
The 44-42 victory will earn the Braves a flag on the wall in the Juneau-Douglas
gymnasium honoring the team as the 2011 Southeast champs.
“To the kids, I think it meant a lot,” MEHS coach Archie Young said of Saturday’s win. “In a lot of ways, I think it means more to the alumni, the people who understand the history of Southeast basketball.”
crossover game, an anticipated match-up that fans were talking about early in
the week, was easily the best of a Region V tournament that was a bit light on
Last season, there was no crossover game as Ketchikan and Juneau-Douglas needed to play Saturday night to decide the 4A title in the new double elimination format. This year, JDHS took care of Kayhi Friday, completing a two-game sweep to win the Region V crown.
Young said the Edgecumbe players were quietly rooting for JDHS in that game, hoping for their third shot at the Crimson Bears. The Braves beat Juneau in January at a tournament in Kodiak, then dropped a game 50-46 to the Crimson Bears at JDHS. That contest was played without Williams, who led the Braves to their first 3A Southeast title since 2005 while averaging 26.5 points a game.
Williams had a game-high 14 Saturday night, while Zach Ivanoff chipped in 9. Sean Melovidov and Waters each scored 7.
At the Sitka airport Sunday, as the Edgecumbe players waited for their bags following the flight back from Juneau, Melovidov, a four-year senior from St. Paul, smiled when asked if he was concerned as he watched Fenumiai’s pass flying toward the paint.
“That was serious,” Melovidov said.
Gozelski led Juneau in the crossover game with 14 points. Yadao had 7 and Alec Calloway came off the bench to add another 7.
Coach Young said that he told Williams to miss the second free throw and that he and assistant Rich Calkins had emphasized “three or four times” that he had to hit the rim.
Young was able to laugh about the play this morning, with Edgecumbe’s Southeast title safely in hand. He also noted, as did some other fans, that the clock seemed to start late on the final play.
With 0.3 seconds
remaining, there is barely time for a tip. History has shown that with under
0.7 on the clock, there is not time for a “catch-and-shoot,” meaning a tip is the
only option. The clock starts once a player gets his hand on the ball, and it
appeared that at least two other players touched the ball before Gozelski made
The next stop for the Braves is Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena, where the state tournament opens March 17. The Braves, the top seed out of Southeast, will face Anchorage Christian School, the second-seed from the Southcentral Conference. The state brackets had not yet been released when the Sentinel went to press today.
The physical game with Juneau-Douglas, which saw a lot of contact on both ends of the floor, was good preparation for the state tournament, Young said.
“I don’t think we’ll play a more physical game than that,” he said. “I think it was good preparation for us to keep our composure, for the most part, and win a game on someone else’s floor.”
The Braves, who are now 21-3 overall and undefeated against 3A schools, established five goals when the season opened. They have now won the Southeast regular season title, and claimed a 3A Region V championship. They also wanted to play their best basketball in March and win a state title.
“I think we’re getting there,” Young said, when asked if his team was peaking. “I do think there are things we can work on the next 10 days.”
The Braves’ other goal: never underestimate opponents. It’s hard to imagine that being an issue now, as MEHS heads north with a shot to bringing home a state title. It will take three straight wins over the best teams in the state.“Absolutely,” Young said. “One at a time.”
A half dozen Mt.
Edgecumbe basketball players and cheerleaders made the Region V 3A
All-Conference team, which was announced at the close of the Southeast
tournament in Juneau March 5.