Hoonah’s Masters Bracket team poses for a group photo on Saturday after being crowned this year’s champs for the M bracket in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at JDHS. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Hoonah’s Masters Bracket team poses for a group photo on Saturday after being crowned this year’s champs for the M bracket in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at JDHS. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Hoonah crowned Gold Medal Masters Bracket champs

Hoonah’s Albert Hinchman named MVP.

The Juneau Empire’s expanded coverage of the Juneau Lions Club 74th Gold Medal Basketball Tournament is made possible by Sealaska Corp. Thanks to this sponsorship, this article —and all of this year’s Gold Medal coverage — is available online without a subscription to the Empire.

As cheers of “Hoo-nah, Hoo-nah” ringing from the bleachers, Hoonah officially claimed the top spot in the Masters Bracket of the Juneau Lions Club 74th Gold Medal Tournament with a win against Juneau during Saturday’s championship game at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé.

The first quarter saw both teams keep the score close with Hoonah only up by a single point with three minutes left in the first quarter. However, Hoonah’s Kenny Willard extended the lead to 11-7 after 2 points plus a foul which he was able to turn into an extra point. Hoonah’s Andy Gray also went to the line for 2 points with 48 seconds left in the first quarter, building the lead to 13-8. Juneau’s Yuri Morgan responded quickly with 2 points as the clock trickled down to 20 seconds, but a shot at the buzzer for 3 points from Willard secured Hoonah’s lead at the end of the quarter, 16-9.

Hoonah’s Michael Mills (1) fights for the rebound against Juneau on Saturday during the championship M bracket game for the 2023 Gold Medal Basketball Tournament. Mills finished the game with 8 points

Hoonah’s Michael Mills (1) fights for the rebound against Juneau on Saturday during the championship M bracket game for the 2023 Gold Medal Basketball Tournament. Mills finished the game with 8 points

To start off the second quarter, Mark Prpich capitalized on a foul with 1 point out of two shots from the free-throw line which was immediately followed by Kamal Lindoff going to the line for Hoonah and also putting down a point to extend the lead to 21-11. Morgan, Jim Carson and Ed Mercer were quick to add points to Juneau’s total, but Hoonah’s Michael Mills got hot and managed to put up 6 more points for Hoonah, ending the quarter 27-24, still Hoonah’s lead.

Fouls continued to plague Juneau’s momentum as Lindoff was sent back to the line for 2 points. Carson put down two 3-point shots in a row for Juneau, nearly tying the score at 31-30. Lindoff answered back with a quick steal, but was unable to turn it into additional points. Hoonah’s Adam Lee’s layup along with a hookshot from Gray and a layup from Mills, Hoonah was able to put the third quarter to sleep still with a healthy lead, 43-35.

Hoonah’s Mark Prpich (22) drives the lane against Juneau’s Doug Draowski (5) on Saturday during the Gold Medal championship game for M bracket at JDHS. Prpich finished the game with 10 points. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Hoonah’s Mark Prpich (22) drives the lane against Juneau’s Doug Draowski (5) on Saturday during the Gold Medal championship game for M bracket at JDHS. Prpich finished the game with 10 points. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Within the fourth, Juneau didn’t score a single point for the first five minutes of the quarter. Juneau’ Doug Drazowski hit a 3-pointer followed by another 3-point shot from Morgan to bring Juneau’s score up to 56-43 but it would be the last points of the game as the rest of the quarter went to Hoonah. Between more scores from Coronell, Morgan, Prpich, Willard and Gray, Hoonah jumped it’s lead for a final score of 64-43.

Hoonah’s coach Greg Garcia said whether he’s coaching or playing alongside the team, he remains proud to be representing the community of Hoonah.

“It’s another victory for these guys’ belt,” Garcia said. “It’s different but nice to sit on the bench with these guys, I’ve played with them for many years and I knew they had what it takes to come into this from the loser bracket, they went through two good teams back to back and they just pushed through it and preserverred, that’s what champions do.”

Hoonah’s Kenny Willard (24) puts up a layup for 2 points against Juneau for the championship game on Saturday at JDHS for this year’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament. Willard finished the game with 7 points. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Hoonah’s Kenny Willard (24) puts up a layup for 2 points against Juneau for the championship game on Saturday at JDHS for this year’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament. Willard finished the game with 7 points. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Joe Coronell led Hoonah in scoring with a total of 11 points. Yuri Morgan led Juneau, and all scorers, with 16 points. Hoonah’s Albert Hinchman was named MVP during a post-game award ceremony. Hoonah’s Lindoff and Gray were named to the all-tournamemt team and Morgan along with Al Tagaban were all-tournamemt for Juneau. Paul Johnson received best sportsmanship.

Ed Mercer of the Juneau team said that while it wasn’t the result the team might have been hoping for, but as far as he’s concerned, everyone wins just for the simple fact that they get to participate in the time honored tradition.

“I think the game went well, we’re pretty happy with our team,” Mercer said. “We came out and played hard, made it to the championship game and it’s just great to play against great competition. I’m happy to see all of the communities back together and out here having a good ole time. Would we have liked a better outcome on our end, sure, but I think it’s all around a win for the simple fact we get to come out here and play ball against each other.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

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