Haines weathered a huge fourth-quarter rally to secure its third consecutive Lions Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament championship on Saturday night.
Angoon, which entered the B Bracket championship game with a spotless 3-0 record, reeled off 12 straight points in the final frame before ultimately falling 88-80 in the 44th and final game of the weeklong tournament featuring teams from all over Southeast Alaska.
“We have to credit this whole week to our defense,” said Haines guard and B Bracket MVP Kyle Fossman, who scored 32 points.
Haines had to slog through the loser’s bracket after dropping its first game to Hydaburg, winning five games over five consecutive days. None of their previous four wins were as tight as the championship game, however, as Angoon ramped up its defense and fed the hot-handed Aquino Brinson in the fourth quarter.
After knocking down a number of 3-pointers, Aquino Brinson stole the ball from Fossman with 40 seconds remaining to give Angoon the chance to tie, but Dominique Brinson’s 3-point shot rattled off the rim and Fossman and Tyler Swinton (33 points) sealed the win at the free-throw line.
Angoon trailed by double digits for most of the first half, but had the momentum to begin the third quarter, having made several big shots to draw within 11 points of Haines and get the crowd engaged by halftime.
But like he did the night before against Metlakatla, Swinton came alive after the break, and nailed a fadeway 40-footer with no time remaining in the third quarter, capping a 9-2 Haines run.
It was a bitter ending for the Brinson brothers, but one they’ll live with after not being eligible to play in the tournament until this year. Even though the Brinsons are from Juneau, their grandmother, Irene Cadiente, was born and raised in Angoon, and tournament officials began allowing descendants of the communities to participate.
“It was really just to represent my family,” Brinson said. “My grandmother was born and raised there. I watched my dad play in this tournament growing up and it was just a big thing for me to play (in the tournament).”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.