In this March 23, 2017 photo, Juneau James Gang’s Billy Ehlers chases a loose ball against Hoonah’s Donald Dybdahl in their C Bracket game in the Lions Club’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this March 23, 2017 photo, Juneau James Gang’s Billy Ehlers chases a loose ball against Hoonah’s Donald Dybdahl in their C Bracket game in the Lions Club’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Bracket Breakdown: All four 2017 champions back this year for Gold Medal

It was quite a year for Haines and Klukwan at the 2017 Juneau Lions Club’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.

Championship Saturday started with a win by the Haines women and ended with a win by the Haines B Bracket men.

In between, Andrew Friske led Klukwan to the C Bracket championship in a triple-overtime win over AK Caches/James Gang (Juneau).

Here is a look at how the brackets shook out last year and the new teams to look out for. Games for the 2018 tournament start today.

C Bracket

Klukwan finished the tournament 4-0 last year, but three of their four wins were by 10 points over fewer. Klukwan cruised past Kake 85-54 in the first round, but faced much stiffer tests in the proceeding rounds. Klukwan defeated Filcom by six points and Metlakatla by only two.

Their championship game against AK Caches/James Gang went three overtimes before ending in their favor, a 107-97 win.

“Honestly, I was just thinking of how tired I was — especially by the third overtime,” Friske, 39, said. “The Juneau team definitely made some big shots there on each overtime to go into the following overtime. Each time we thought we had them, they’d come up and make a shot and before we knew it we were in another overtime.”

Klukwan will try to make it three C Bracket championships in a row this year. They won’t have AK Cache/James Gang to contend with, but their replacement — Hydaburg — is just as formidable, according to Friske.

“They bring instant championship possibilities,” Friske said. “Looking at their roster, if all those guys show up, the Vegas odds would be pointing in their direction.”

Hydaburg won back-to-back C Bracket championships in 2014 and 2015 with many of the same guys listed on this year’s preliminary roster.

Friske said he expects Metlakatla and Filcom to be tough as well. Hoonah, Angoon, Yakutat and Kake will also be contending for a championship this year in the C Bracket.

Last five C Bracket champions:

Hoonah (‘13), Hydaburg (‘14), Hydaburg (‘15), Klukwan (‘16), Klukwan (‘17)

B Bracket

Hydaburg’s B Bracket squad won’t be too shabby, either. Former Boston Celtic Damen Bell-Holter, who’s hosting a Juneau youth basketball camp on the first two days of the tournament, will be making his Gold Medal debut for his village.

He and Hydaburg will try to dethrone Haines’ Kyle Fossman, another decorated collegiate player with professional playing experience.

Like their Klukwan peers, Haines went undefeated in the tournament, clipping Hydaburg, Wrangell and Hoonah en route to the championship game.

Hoonah defeated Yakutat and Kake in the first two rounds before falling to Haines. They recovered with an 85-77 win over Wrangell to set up the rematch with Haines.

In addition to Haines, Hoonah and Hydaburg, Kake, Klukwan, Yakutat, Angoon and Sitka will play this year.

Last five champions:

Angoon (‘13), Angoon (‘14), Hydaburg (‘15), Angoon (‘16), Haines (‘17)

Women’s Bracket

Like their B Bracket counterparts, Hoonah and Haines also met twice in the women’s bracket last year and with similar results.

The Haines women took down Hoonah 62-55 in the first round and 52-30 two games later in the championship. In between, they downed Yakutat 65-52.

Haines and Hoonah will be joined by Kake and Yakutat in the Women’s Bracket this year.

Last four champions:

Yakutat (‘14), Hoonah (‘15), Haines (‘16), Haines (‘17)

Master’s Bracket

Unlike their B and Women’s Bracket teams, the Hoonah Master’s team would not lose their championship game. They won by double-digits over Kake and Angoon in the first two rounds before meeting Kake in the championship.

Once there, they came back from a second-half deficit to win 80-78. Hoonah’s Albert Hinchman scored the last four points of the game, including the go-ahead basket, to become the Master’s Bracket MVP.

Both Hoonah and Kake are back for this year’s tournament. Yakutat and Klukwan replace Angoon and Sitka as the other two Master’s Bracket teams.

Last five champions:

Klukwan (‘13), Klukwan (‘14), Hoonah (‘15), Kake (‘16), Hoonah (‘17)


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


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