Kake’s Louise Kadake and Sitka’s Lexi Smith battle for a loose ball during the Gold Medal tournament, Wednesday, March 22, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Kake’s Louise Kadake and Sitka’s Lexi Smith battle for a loose ball during the Gold Medal tournament, Wednesday, March 22, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Kake women eliminate Sitka from Gold Medal

Outside shooting keeps Kake alive, sends Sitka home

  • By Klas Stolpe For the Juneau Empire
  • Wednesday, March 22, 2023 10:39pm
  • SportsBasketball

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.

Kake turned a 7-point advantage at the half into a 30-point win as they eliminated Sitka 67-37 from the Women’s Bracket of the 74th Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé gymnasium.

“Just working the ball and defense,” Kake’s Monica Ashenfelter said. “Defense was our main focus. We stuck with man and that’s what worked for us. And we just worked the ball.”

Kake took a 15-8 lead after the first quarter with three shots past the arch – one each from Ashenfelter, Willow Jackson and Krystle DeWitt — and a couple steals and scores by Mamie Crooks.

Ashenfelter would pump her fists when a Kake 3-point basket went down. So many were on target that she resembled a boxer, whirling her right arm in a circle as another score lit the scoreboard.

She and Jackson accounted for four in the game and Louise Kadake, Courtney James and DeWitt one apiece.

Sitka looked to pass the ball inside to establish control of the game with Shaye Jensen, Breanne Erickson, Verla Brown and Lexi Smith. Jensen scored six points in the first quarter.

Kake’s Willow Jackson hits a shot past the arch against Angoon during the Gold Medal tournament, Wednesday, March 22, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Kake’s Willow Jackson hits a shot past the arch against Angoon during the Gold Medal tournament, Wednesday, March 22, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

“We had a little bit more communication and just running our game,” Sitka’s Breanne Erickson said. “Instead of letting them control what we were doing.”

When Sitka battled for position, Kake would sag their defenders.

“They are very tough,” Erickson said. “They are really strong and hard to get around. So it is difficult even though they are a little bit shorter than me it is still hard to get around them.”

The teams played an even second quarter and Kake held a 29-22 lead at halftime.

Pressure defense allowed Kake to slowly pull ahead in the third quarter with Jackson, James and Ashenfelter hitting from distance and their defense forcing four turnovers.

Jensen hit from deep for Sitka and Smith, Erickson, Kelsey Erickson-Kizer and Verla Brown scored around the key in the stanza.

The final 10 minutes saw Kake pressuring more full court, speeding up the game and outscoring Sitka 22-5 in the stanza with14 points coming from Jackson.

The Kake women have had some early exists from the Gold Medal setting in the past but this team is building stamina.

“We finally made it past the two-game streak,” Ashenfelter said. “Usually in the past we’ve gotten out in the first couple of games. We really wanted it and we are still alive.”

Jackson led Kake with 22 points, Ashenfelter added 15, Crooks 12, James seven, Kadake five, DeWitt three, Heather Gatti two and Farrah Davis one.

Kake’s Monica Ashenfelter (24) lines up a three-point shot against Sitka during the Gold Medal tournament, Wednesday, March 22, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Kake’s Monica Ashenfelter (24) lines up a three-point shot against Sitka during the Gold Medal tournament, Wednesday, March 22, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Kake hit 8-11 at the free throw line, Sitka 2-11.

Shaye Jensen led Sitka with 11 points, Smith and Erickson added eight points apiece, Starr Jensen four, Brown three, Erickson-Kizer two and Kirstin Karsunsky one.

Kake advances to an 11:30 a.m. Thursday elimination game against the winner of Hoonah/Angoon.

Kake (21 Gold Medal titles) is pursuing their first Women’s Bracket championship. Their town is the two-time defending Masters champions.

Sitka was also pursuing their first Women’s Bracket title. The town has 15 Gold Medal championships, the last in 2000 in the, then-A Bracket.

“We had a good time,” Sitka’s Erickson said. “I hope we get to come back again and bring a stronger team… have a little bit more of a bench I think would help… we got a little bit tired, especially after the game yesterday, they ran us pretty good.”

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