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Three-time defending B Bracket champion Haines had a fresh face on their roster and he provided just enough firepower on Wednesday to get past Kake, one of the most competitive teams in the 74th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.
“We got a couple players who had been at college doing some finals and stuff,” Haines’ center Tyler Swinton said. “So we had a little bit more depth for sure, more height… but really I just think we moved the ball better. We are less one demensional. We played better as a team today… had good team defense and now we just have to keep it going.”
Haines put 80 points on the scoreboard, led by 27 points from new edition Kirby Faverty, while Kake tallied 54 and displayed an aggressive offensive attack of younger players who made a statement in the tournament.
Kake’s Simon Friday connected on three shots past the arch in the first quarter and Ethan Kadake another, while Shawn Merry blasted past defenders for three buckets.
“It’s a physical atmosphere,” Kake’s Merry said. “It’s very, very fun. I figured out some things I need to work on… getting into the paint and pump-faking and just trying not to get blocked playing my game. But that’s the name of the game I guess, just being competitive.”
Haines didn’t flinch however and Swinton scored two buckets inside and two past the arch, Kai Sato-Franks hit from deep and Faverty put his first two points in to trail at the quarter’s end 18-16.
Faverty went off in the second quarter, opening the stanza with a break-a-way dunk, notching an old-fashioned 3-point play, and hitting two shots past the arch in a 20-5 run that put Haines up 36-23.
Sato-Franks, Swinton and Max Graham joined in the barrage and Haines held a 44-25 lead at the half.
“I just try to bring energy,” Haines’ Faverty said. “We have a great group of guys. We’re just trying to play together. I haven’t played with them in a whole so it’s really nice just getting to know them.”
Faverty opened the third quarter by blocking a shot that led to a basket by teammate Dylan Swinton. On Haines’ next possession Faverty followed a teammate’s missed shot, finding the ball just off the rim and slamming it through. Faverty would tally four blocks and eight rebounds during the game.
“Defense is underrated in my opinion,” Faverty said. “If you have good defense and shut down the best player on the team it is going to look like we are doing really well. We all played really good defense.”
Kake didn’t back down as Friday, Merry and Jonah Davis found the scorebook and team mainstay Tracy Jackson hit twice from past the arch to keep pace with their opponents.
Haines would lead 64-41 starting the final 10 minutes of action and the two sides would exchange baskets down the stretch.
Haines’ Sato-Franks and Dylan Swinton notched two buckets apiece, James Hart hit from distance, and Swinton and Faverty added their final scores.
For Kake’s final quarter Dean Cavanaugh hit from distance, and Joseph Ortega, Xavier Friday, Simon Friday and Anthony Ziglier all hit a basket.
“It starts with the rotation,” Kake’s Tracy Jackson said of the game and the team’s young core. “And then guys just being prepared to play. We had a very emotional win yesterday (76-74 overtime against Hoonah) and then recovering from that with how young we are. We are growing, hopefully we can keep this group together longer… as long as I can contribute to the younger group as much as I can we’ll go from there. An emotional win and then crashed down today, hopefully we can learn from that and continue to get better from there… I hope they get back in the gym after this. They have a really promising group. The young group just won state and they are coming up. I hope they just stay in the gym and continue to grow together.”
Faverty led all scorers with 27 points for Haines, Tyler Swinton added 21, Sato-Franks 13, Dylan Swinton and Hart seven apiece, Graham three and Jordan Baumgartner two.
Haines hit 8-11 at the free throw line, Kake 3-6.
Simon Friday led Kake with 20 points, Merry 12, Jackson six, Ziglier four, Cavanaugh and Kadake three apiece, Ortega, Davis and Xavier Friday two each.
Haines advances to play another elimination game at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Metlakatla-Angoon.
Haines (17 Gold Medal titles) won the last three B Bracket championships: in 2017 topping Hoonah in overtime 79-73; in 2018 coasting past Klukwan 83-66; and in 2019 nipping Angoon 88-80.
Kake (21 titles) last won the B Bracket in 2004, the C Bracket in 2012, Masters in 2019 and the, then-A Bracket in 1971.