Hoonah’s Ken Willard attempts to steal from Kake’s Jay Peterson during Gold Medal M Bracket championship game Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School. Hoonah won 80-78. (Konrad Frank | For the Juneau Empire)

Hoonah’s Ken Willard attempts to steal from Kake’s Jay Peterson during Gold Medal M Bracket championship game Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School. Hoonah won 80-78. (Konrad Frank | For the Juneau Empire)

Hinchman cements himself in Hoonah basketball lore with game-winning shot

History pointed to Kake winning the game.

History said Hoonah would have a chance, but Kake would win the 2017 Masters Bracket at the Gold Medal Tournament this past weekend at Juneau-Douglas High School.

If Kake’s “Iron Five” of Rudy Bean, Jay Peterson, Lloyd Davis, Nick Davis and Kip Howard could win seven-consecutive titles (2006-2012) in a deeper C Bracket field, they wouldn’t have much trouble reestablishing their dynasty in the Masters Bracket.

History was wrong.

Albert Hinchman made the game-tying and game-winning shots in the last two minutes of the game as Hoonah defeated Kake 80-78 in the Masters championship.

Hinchman delivered 14 of his 21 points in the second half to lead all Hoonah scorers. Hinchman was named the MVP of the Masters Bracket as he led Hoonah to a perfect 3-0 record in the tournament. Ken Willard and Greg Garcia added 13 points each for Hoonah, who won the Masters championship two years ago.

Hoonah beat a Rudy Bean-less Kake by 14 points in the first round of the tournament heading into Saturday’s rematch.

“I saw Rudy Bean walk in the door before the game, I was like, ‘They were already tough in the first match, they’re just that much tougher [in the championship],” Hinchman said after the game. “To have five hall-of-famers on that team, and for us to come together down a few points in the second half,” Hinchman’s train of thought was interrupted as a passerby congratulated him. “With games with us and Kake, it’s always that way, it’s always close.”

Howard was a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, and in the years since five other Kake players have joined him there.

“It made it better, definitely, the ‘Iron Five’ were out there (laughs), that’s what they call them,” Hoonah’s John Thein Jr. said. “It feels good to have their best guys out there, that’s the way we want it, no excuses around here, right?”

Rudy Bean scored 38 points in the game, but passed the ball out of bounds in the closing seconds of the game with his team down two points.

The game featured eight lead changes over the opening nine minutes of the game.

Hoonah’s aggressive defense put them over the foul limit over foul limit at 10:55. Bean made both his free throws to give Kake a 19-17 and the lead grew to seven as the half wore on.

But Hoonah closed the half on a 12-4 run, as Greg Garcia and Ed Mercer Jr. scored transition layups and Hinchman and Willard made 3-pointers.

“It was a team effort, all of us were working really hard together, and fighting all the way through even we were down,” Mercer Jr. said, whose team lead 44-41 at halftime.

Kake came out in the second half on a 9-3 run to retake the lead. The score remained tied at 61 for nearly three minutes — a rare scoring drought by either team. Bean gave Kake back the lead on a 3-pointer with under four minutes gone in the second half. After three lead changes, Hinchman made a tough leaning jumper to tie the game at 78, before repeating the act less than a minute later to take the lead.

“I was trying to get a screen from one of the guys, I was like, ‘Come on, someone set me a screen,’” Hinchman said. “… They played really good team-defense against me so to get something off like that, I felt pretty lucky.”

After Bean’s turnover, Kake had just seconds after to get up one final shot after Garcia missed the front end of a one-and-one with under five seconds left.

Howard flicked the ball up to Bean but Hinchman swooped in and stole the ball. As time expired, he pranced across the court, still holding the ball, stopped, and stretched out his arms, leaned back, and looked up to the roof in celebration.

Not long after the game, as Hoonah made its way through the handshake line of Hall of Famers to accept their championship trophy, Hinchman’s uncle reminded him of two others that are equally proud of his accomplishment.

“He told me your Dad and Grandpa are watching down on you, smiling down smiling down on right now. That really meant a lot, my dad’s been gone for a few years, I’m really …” Hinchman paused for a few seconds. “I really wish he could have been here to see that one.”


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


Hoonah’s Ed Mercer Jr. shoots against Kake’s Nick Davis during the Gold Medal M Bracket championship game Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School. Hoonah won 80-78. (Konrad Frank | For the Juneau Empire)

Hoonah’s Ed Mercer Jr. shoots against Kake’s Nick Davis during the Gold Medal M Bracket championship game Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School. Hoonah won 80-78. (Konrad Frank | For the Juneau Empire)

More in Sports

Senior assistant captain Anna Dale attempts to stuff the net during a home game between Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears Varsity hockey team and the Kenai Central Kardinals at the Treadwell Arena Saturday afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Crimson Bears topple Kardinals on home ice

The team won with a score of 4-2

This combination photo shows all five division-winning teams from the recent 3v3 Pre-Season Tournament at Thunder Mountain High School. (Upper left) Team 7, (upper right) Hoopsters, (lower left) 3 Amigos; (lower center) Lucky Ladies and (lower right) 3 of a Kind. (Courtesy Photos)
3v3 Tournament crowns division winners

Thunder Mountain High School boys basketball and Hooprats recently hosted the 13th… Continue reading

Matthew Wendel, Mike Kreis, Kasey Watts, Courtney Kreis, Tami Wahto and Todd Schur wore costumes during the 2021 Turkey Trot. Why’d they wear costumes? “Why not?” asked Schur. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strut your speed at upcoming annual Turkey Trot

Stuff the starting line Thanksgiving morning

Bree Lee Lo, June Enele, Lemoe Eneliko and Moira Anemia pose for a photo taken by Alexandra and Barron Anemia. All were on hand to celebrate Samoa's Rugby League World Cup run. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Local rugby fans celebrate Samoa’s World Cup run

“Win our lose, we’re still proud.”

Glacier Swim Club finds success in Petersburg

Twenty Juneau students competed in the November swim meet hosted in Petersburg over the weekend.

The 2022-23 Thunder Mountain girls varsity volleyball team poses for a group photo during 2022 3A/4A Volleyball State Championships in Anchorage on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 10 and 11. (Courtesy Photo / Julie Herman)
TMHS volleyball wraps up stellar season

Falcons fall short of finals at State tournament

TMHS stands for team photo after state tournament at Bartlett High School in Anchorage on Saturday, Nov. 5. (Courtesy Photo / Josiah Loseby)
Juneau swim teams make a splash at state championship

“We all performed well and we all had a good time.”

Juneau Skating Club Forget-Me-Not team featured in last year’s spring event. The team is traveling to Irvine, California to compete in the Glacier Falls Classic on Saturday, Nov. 12. (Courtesy Photo / Kim Hort)
Forget-Me-Not skaters return to California

Juneau Skating Club team competes in Glacier Fall Classic.

Thunder Mountain girls varsity volleyball team celebrating their championship victory against JDHS on Saturday, Nov. 5. TMHS now heads to the state tournament in Anchorage to face Colony in the first round on Thursday, Nov. 10. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
TMHS volleyball team advances to state tournament

Falcons will take on Colony in Anchorage Nov. 11

Large crowds turned out to support high school swimmers through Alaska at the Region V meet on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28, 29 at in Juneau at Dimond Park Aquatic Center. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Prep swim teams score big at Region V meet

TMHS and JDHS swim teams score big at Region V meet

JDHS junior Mila Hargrave winds up to spike the ball while TMHS junior Ashlyn Gates attempts to deflect it. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Volleyball wraps up regular season

Region tournament set for Nov. 4 and Nov. 5