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.
One would think after four days of basketball the Master’s Bracket would be slowing down and the use of ointments and supports ramping up but Hoonah and Sitka showed there was still some air in the basketball — and their Jordan’s — on Thursday.
Hoonah eliminated Sitka 64-45 in the Master’s Bracket of the 74th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé gymnasium.
Balanced scoring was key for Hoonah as Michael Mills tallied 11 points inside and Albert Hinchman 11 points outside and Joe Coronell did a little bit of both for 10 more.
“I think we get to play more games now coming out of the loser’s bracket so we are starting to get that chemistry,” Hoonah’s Kamal Lindoff said. “We are working the ball more and finding our big guys down low. It took a couple games for us to get going, but I think we are starting to click now… my legs were gone today, the morning games are tough.”
Even Sitka’s Steve Edenshaw sneaking into Hoonah’s pre-tip off huddle didn’t surprise the victors as they opened the game with a 7-0 run on baskets by Lindoff on a layup fast break, Hinchman from the arch and Mills in the post and held an 18-9 lead after 10 minutes.
Sitka battled back in the second quarter on baskets by Patrick Miller, Sam Smith, Ray Sitka and Norm Staton, closing the deficit to 23-19 with half a stanza to play.
Hoonah’s Joe Coronell and Mills countered with baskets to push the advantage back to 28-19 and the teams exchanged baskets into halftime with Hoonah ahead 33-27.
Hoonah’s Hinchman opened the second half with a deep shot and Sitka’s Miller answered and again the sides exchanged baskets down to a 50-39 third quarter score in Hoonah’s favor.
Sitka would tally just 6 points in the final period of play while Hoonah found a long-range basket apiece from Hinchman and Lindoff, a close shot apiece from Mills and Louie White Jr. and a pair of baskets by Kenny Willard.
Willard totaled seven points for Hoonah, Andy Gray and Mark Prpich six apiece, Lindoff five, White Jr. four, Adam Lee three and Gary Smith two.
Hoonah hit 7-10 from the free throw line, Sitka 4-6.
Miller led Sitka with 16 points, Smith, Staton and Robbie Wheat six each, Rich McAlpin five, Tom Anderson four and Sitka two.
Hoonah advances to a 4:00 p.m. Friday elimination game against the loser of Juneau/Klukwan while Sitka gets to enjoy fry bread and the rest of the tournament.
“I felt like we got a lot of good team chemistry towards the end of the tournament,” Sitka’s Patrick Miller said. “And we are already looking forward to next year. We think we have a good base to work with so we are pretty excited. Even though we got one win and a couple losses we are taking a positive out of it.”
Hoonah (27 Gold Medal titles) last won the Masters in 2017, an 80-75 victory over Kake.
Sitka has 15 Gold Medal championships, the last in 2000 in the, then-A Bracket.