Juneau-Douglas High School junior Caitlin Pusich came in the clutch in the fourth quarter and JDHS defeated Thunder Mountain High School 44-40 Thursday afternoon at the Region V tournament in Ketchikan.
Pusich scored two go-ahead baskets in the fourth, the second of which put the Crimson Bears up 41-39 with just over one minute to play. TMHS turned the ball over on its next possession, and freshman Sadie Tuckwood scored to put up JDHS four.
Pusich finished with 18 points and senior Cassie Dzinich had nine. Junior Nina Fenumiai led the Falcons with 17 points and freshman Neal Garcia scored 12.
“At halftime, we were just like, ‘This could be it,’ and we don’t want it to be done, so we have to play our hardest,” Dzinich said.
The Falcons led by seven late in the third quarter, but JDHS went on a 5-0 run to end the quarter. The fourth quarter featured two lead changes before Tuckwood tied the game at 39 by making one of two free throws.
TMHS coach Chandler Christensen called a timeout and drew a play up for Fenumiai with 1:21 left.
Fenumiai lost the ball along the sideline to junior Alyxn Bohulano, who kicked the ball up to Pusich. The shooting guard sped up the court and shot over senior Andee Johnson to give JDHS the lead.
“That game should’ve gone our way, for sure,” TMHS sophomore Taz Hauck said. “I don’t know what happened. But we played so hard and going from losing by 30 to almost winning, that’s just enough to put confidence in our team. Next year, we’re going to go out there, and we’re going to win.”
TMHS lost 56-27 to JDHS in the first round of the tournament, played Tuesday night.
The Crimson Bears now play Ketchikan on Friday night. The Lady Kings, who defeated JDHS on Wednesday, can win their fifth consecutive Region V championship with another win over JDHS.
“We really need to be smart on the (full-court) press,” Dzinich said of the upcoming game. “That is what I think killed us yesterday. We went over it and talked about it, so we’re just going to play really hard and try to play smart.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.