Dimond High School sophomore Jaren Carle made a 3-pointer and two clutch free throws in the final minute of Friday night’s nonconference boys basketball game to help secure a 57-53 win over Juneau-Douglas.
JDHS senior Erik Kelly scored a game-high 22 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
Prior to the game, the star forward was given a commemorative white basketball in recognition of surpassing 1,000 career points in the Crimson Bears Feb. 3 loss to Thunder Mountain.
Senior Kolby Hoover added 13 points in the loss.
Dimond’s Nicolas Horning, Carter Moore and Evan Hoosier scored 12 points respectively in the win.
The visitors came into the contest ranked No. 1 in the state in the WPI (winning percentage index) standings having won 14 games (now 15).
“We came out a little flat, a little deer-in-the-headlights maybe, believing the press clippings (of Dimond),” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “What I was really proud of was the guys battled back, they competed and realized they could play with them.”
Kelly ran the length of the court and scored a layup with just under 15 seconds left in the game to bring JDHS within one point.
Horning made two free throws to extend the lead back to three points though, and JDHS turned the ball over on the ensuing baseline inbounds.
It was a frustrating end to a quarter in which JDHS cut Dimond’s lead to two points on three occasions before Kelly’s basket.
Dimond took its largest lead of the game (11) with two minutes remaining in the first half. However, the Crimson Bears closed the first half on an 8-2 run.
“I think maybe there was some nerves that they were the No. 1 team in the state and we didn’t come out hot like we usually do,” JDHS senior Kasey Watts said. “It started to heat up in the second half but you have to play all four quarters to win a game.”
After a back-and-forth third quarter, Dimond led 40-31 to start the fourth quarter. JDHS then went on an 8-2 run.
Dimond 6-foot-7 junior Hoosier fouled Hoover with just under five minutes remaining the game. The call forced Hoosier — who by that time scored 12 points — to sit the rest of the game with five fouls. Hoover made 1 of 2 free throws to make it a 45-40 Dimond advantage.
Carter Moore missed on the other end and Kelly scored off his own offensive rebound to make it a 45-43.
After another Dimond miss, Kelly made 1 of 2 free throws and Dimond head coach Brad Lauwers called a timeout with three minutes to play.
After falling back down by five points, Luke Mallinger’s layup with just 37 seconds left made it a one-possession game again. After two Dimond free throws, JDHS hurried the ball upcourt to an open Watts, who hit a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining.
“I put it up and it felt really good,” Watts said. “I was just really hoping I made it because I heard coach say, ‘Hit it,’ so I had some pressure on my back.”
Kelly made the late-game layup two possessions later to clip Dimond’s lead to 53-52. But the visitors scored four of the next five points to seal the win.
The Crimson Bears forfeited 12 points at the free-throw line on 17-29 shooting. Dimond made 18 of 26 free throws.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.