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.
You don’t have to go home yet in a battle of undefeated teams but you don’t get a day to rest if you lose and Juneau will sleep longer tonight after defeating Klukwan 48-39 and earning Saturday’s Masters Bracket championship game at the 74th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé gymnasium.
“It had to be our defense,” Juneau’s Doug Drazkowski said. “We came together as a team and we were aggressive, like they were playing us in the first half. And we just made our shots when they counted. I’m just real appreciative of the Gold Medal people asking us to play. Go Juneau.”
The relatively rough play saw Klukwan bump and bang to a 19-18 first quarter lead behind two shots past the arch by Dave Buss and one each by Dan Hotch and Jeff Sharnbroich as it was better to be outside than in the key.
Juneau’s Al Tagaban also notched two from distance in the stanza and teammate Jim Carson added another.
“We need to control the ball,” Klukwan’s Dave Buss said.“Have good possessions. Play good defense on our guys, don’t leave them for open three’s… we just have to play better team defense I think… a little better team offense, come together.”
Juneau started to play a more complete game in the second quarter, working the ball inside or driving and dishing outside and outscored Klukwan 15-8 in the stanza. Klukwan’s Jason Shull hit the only field goals in the quarter for Klukwan, both past the arch, and Juneau held a 33-27 lead at the break.
The toll of the tired began to show in the third quarter as Juneau outscored Klukwan 8-5 for a 41-32 advantage starting the final period.
Klukwan’s Erik McCormick hit a bucket and Shull a free throw to cut the lead to 41-35 but Juneau slowed the game down and outscored Klukwan 7-4 down the stretch.
“We need to communicate better,” Klukwan’s Erik McCormick said. “Know where each other are on the court and get back on defense. Now we have an earlier game… no rest, now it gets fun.”
Carson led Juneau with 16 points, Tagaban added 13, Ed Mercer six, James Mercer five, Drazkowski four, and Sunny Mason and Yuri Morgan two apiece.
Juneau hit 11-20 from the free throw line, Klukwan 7-14.
Shull and Buss led Klukwan with 11 points apiece, Jeff Sharnbroich five, Russ Stevens and Dan Hotch three apiece, and Pete Dorn two.
Juneau will play at 4 p.m. Saturday in the championship game. Klukwan plays at 4 p.m. Friday against the winner of Klukwan and Hoonah.
Juneau (33 titles) last won the Masters Bracket in 2009.
Klukwan (8 titles) last won the Masters Bracket in 2014, they fell to Kake 75-64 in the 2019 final.