A year after winning the B Bracket championship, Haines players weren’t happy to lose their first game of the 2019 Lions Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.
Haines fell to Hydaburg in Sunday’s opener, sending the defending champions to the loser’s bracket. Haines’ Tyler Swinton, who shot poorly in that first game, said the loss woke them up.
“We lost to them the first game, and it kind of lit a fire under us,” Swinton said.
Four days later, Haines had a chance for revenge, and took advantage. Behind a fast-paced approach and 15 three-pointers, Haines sent Hydaburg home with a 78-52 victory. Swinton, who has found his stroke, scored 33 points and sunk eight 3s.
Haines still has to win one more game to get to Saturday’s championship game — Metlakatla awaits them in the semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday — against Angoon. Angoon caught fire late against Metlakatla in Thursday’s semifinal, turning a double-digit deficit into a 102-80 victory.
Angoon and Metlakatla went back and forth for much of the first three quarters, but Angoon ended the game on a 36-13 run thanks to energetic defense and hot shooting from Aquino and Dominique Brinson and Clayton Edwin.
Aquino Brinson, who scored 20 of his 33 points after halftime, said he and his teammates didn’t panic when Metlakatla raced out to an 11-point lead in the third quarter.
“Honestly, we just trusted each other,” Brinson said. “I mean, (you can’t) get down on each other, obviously. That could be really tough to get down on each other. It just goes downhill. We just stuck in, stayed consistent with our shooting and trusted our players.”
Chris Bryant led the way for Metlakatla on Thursday night against Angoon, finishing with 22 points in the losing effort.
Angoon is looking for its first B Bracket title since 2016. Metlakatla won its sole B Bracket title in 1996, and hasn’t won a title of any kind since the women’s team won in 2006.
Hydaburg withstands late Hoonah run to advance to C Bracket final
It got a little dicey late, but Hydaburg remained undefeated and advanced to the C Bracket championship game, dispatching Hoonah 86-75 on Thursday night. Hydaburg led by around 20 points for most of the final three quarters, but a flurry of 3s from Hoonah’s Travis Dybdahl helped Hoonah cut the lead to single-digits in the final minute.
The Hydaburg players maintained their composure despite a raucous Hoonah crowd, and were able to make their free throws late to ice the game. Kevin and T.J. Young each scored 19 points for Hydaburg. Dybdahl had 28 points for Hoonah.
Kevin Young said that many times, it simply comes down to teamwork at Gold Medal.
“Everyone can score here, but it’s more about the team chemistry I think,” he said, “and I think we’ve got good team chemistry. We enjoy playing with each other and I think it shows.”
Hoonah could get another chance at Hydaburg. Hoonah heads to the semifinal, set for a rematch with Klukwan. Klukwan has won the tournament three years in a row, but Hoonah made easy work of them in the first game of the tournament, winning 92-71 on Sunday morning.
Klukwan has found its stride since then, though, beating Yakutat and Filcom to earn a spot in the semifinal, which takes place 4 p.m. Friday.
The Hoonah C Bracket team is the final one standing from Hoonah. The village always has the largest and loudest cheering section, and they’ll surely do what they can to will this team to victory against Klukwan.
Kake cruises to Masters championship game
It didn’t take long for Kake to exert its will in Thursday’s M Bracket semifinal against Klukwan. Kake had a double-digit lead within minutes and didn’t let up, eventually rolling to an 85-57 victory.
Kake awaits the winner of the Klukwan-Yakutat game at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Kake, the defending champion, has made easy work of its competition this year. Kake beat Sitka 90-58 in the first round before defeating Angoon 94-54 in the second round.
Rudy Bean, a Gold Medal Hall of Famer in the class of 2015, was key to Kake’s fast start and was able to sit for much of the second half. He ended up with 16 points, and Jay Peterson led Kake with 17 points.
Bean said expectations are always high for Kake, and he and his teammates are trying to live up to them.
“Kake fans came up to see us play, so we’re just happy to be able to satisfy the fans and give them a good game,” Bean said. “I think they’re expecting us to win, so we’ve got to go out and play hard.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.