In the second round of the Gold Medal tournament’s C bracket competition, Metlakata hit the free throws it needed down the stretch to bounce Yakutat from the winner’s bracket and move on to the semifinals.
Metlakatla overcame a 3-point margin in the final minute of Tuesday’s competition to close Yakutat 69-68. Down one point with 24 seconds left, Metlakatla employed a full-court press on a baseline inbounds which forced Yakutat into a turnover. Metlakatla’s Willie Hayward then drove the lane for a floater which missed, but drew a foul and two shots with only ten seconds left.
Hayward hit both shots to give his team the advantage, and credited his younger teammates for helping prepare him for the clutch free throws.
“Anthony (Gogert), one of our younger teammates, kept telling me ‘free throws, free throws,’ and he’d make me get on the free throw line while all the other guys shot around. I got a little push from the younger player, and I was expecting to get those last free throws.”
Hayward led his team with 24 points; He was followed by Anthony Gogert with 18. Jerry Scudero and Archie Dundas contributed eight each.
Yakutat was led by Jimmy Jensen with 31 points on 11 field goals, a 3-pointer and six free throws. Jensen was followed by Alpha Porter with 14 and Ralph Johnson with nine.
Porter felt his team did all they could to win the game, but couldn’t get the breaks they needed to pull down a win.
“It was fairly easy to penetrate, whether we capitalized on that or not was a different story. I thought we did well. We had our moments in the beginning, but we played a little rough, we just didn’t have a couple plays work out for us at the end there,” Porter said.
On the turnover that set Hayward up with the game-winning free throws, Porter added: “I was driving baseline, I felt like they had reached but they got the ball and hit it off Ralph (Johnson) and that was pretty much it. Definitely a turning point there.”
The teams matched buckets throughout the contest, with the biggest advantage belonging to Yakutat at five points midway through the second half.
Metlakatla moves on to play at 9 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals.