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Angoon and Yakutat shot the lights out on Tuesday in the Juneau Lions Club 74th Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé gymnasium, but Angoon found an advantage inside to take a 79-62 win.
“We noticed last game that if we got it low to Kendrick (Payton) it made the game a lot more easier,” Angoon’s Aquino Brinson said. “So we wanted to dish it down to him and free up things for us outside. And Kendrick was doing good too so, the more the merrier. We wanted to push it to our tempo, play our game. That was something we didn’t do yesterday was play our game.”
Brinson and Anthony Snow benefited from the attention Payton received inside, connecting for seven and six points, respectively, in the first quarter and a 20-16 lead.
Yakutat kept pace with long-range shots by Stephen Adams and Arthur Adams who garnished seven and five points, respectively, in the stanza.
Yakutat would connect on four more deep balls in the second quarter – two from Arthur Adams and one each by Christian Adams and Stephen Adams – to take a 36-34 lead into the half while Angoon depended on JJ Jack Nixon for nine points in the quarter. Nixon connected on a back shot at the buzzer to close the gap to the two point deficit.
“This still means a lot for this group in our first year,” Yakutat’s Christian Adams said of the team’s competitiveness. “I am hoping that this will be a little more extra fuel for next year. For me the physicality was the biggest challenge. Some of these guys have been here before so they knew, and I knew just from growing up and watching that it was going to be physical game. But to come out here and really learn what it is like are good lessons, good lessons for everybody.”
Angoon would become the aggressor in the second half, tying the score at 41-41 with seven minutes remaining in the stanza and taking the lead for good, 44-42, on a basket by Brinson.
“We just weren’t getting the 50-50 balls,” Brinson said. “We weren’t doing the dirty work on the floor but we picked it up in the second half.”
Payton connected for nine points in the third quarter and Brinson, Nixon and Duncan O’Brien benefited from long range as Angoon opened a 63-53 lead at the end of three quarters.
Yakutat’s A. Adams hit his fourth deep shot of the game, Robert Sensmeier another, and Christian Adams and Kale Klushkan found shots inside to keep pace in the quarter.
“Just really wanted to get a win,” Angoon’s Payton said. “Just get a win. We need one and we got one. It was a fun battle. Yakutat is a solid team, they can shoot the lights out. They hung in there. We definitely wanted to get it inside, work the ball around. I started the game off pretty slow, just turnovers, missing easy ones… but the other guys pulled through, kept us in it.”
Nixon opened the fourth quarter with a steal for two points, Snow scored inside on an out-of-bounds play and O’Brien battled for another basket inside as Angoon pushed out to a 69-54 advantage.
Yakutat fought on with aggressive play but scored just nine points in the final period on baskets by Josh James, C. Adams and Klushkan, while Angoon tallied 16 points yet struggled at the free throw line with a 6-14 clip.
“Tough man, tough,” Yakutat’s Sensmeier said. “Most of our guys this is their first year… 21 (C. Adams), our point guard, this is his first year…. 3 (Arthur Adams), he is still in high school… we just need to play more ball together. We have the potential. I think we have the most fire power in this tournament but just translating that onto the court and executing it is a lot easier said than done. This is a good team.”
Nixon led Angoon with 21 points, Brinson added 19, Payton 17, O’Brien 10, Snow nine, Julian Duncan two and Michael Croasmun one.
Angoon hit 16-32 at the free throw line, Yakutat 9-16.
Arthur Adams led Yakutat with 16 points, Stephen Adams added 13, Christian Adams 12, Klushkan 11, James five, Sensmeier four and Jay Sin one.
Angoon plays another elimination game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against Metlakatla.
Angoon is looking to add to their 14 Gold Medal titles and win their eighth B Bracket championship — the last was in 2016.