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 firstname.lastname@example.org.