With time ticking down on the third quarter in Masters Bracket championship game Saturday, Kake’s Jay Peterson decided a substitution was in order.
“Kip!” he shouted toward the sidelines, rousing Clifton “Kip” Howard from the recesses of his chair. The Gold Medal Hall of Fame inductee jogged over to the scorer’s table and then onto the court, and the momentum of Kake’s challenger soon faded with the return of the lean and lanky forward.
For one last time, Howard helped carve out another Gold Medal championship for the small village community on Kupreanof Island, which defeated Klukwan 75-64 to secure its third Masters championship in four years.
“I think they were doing fine,” Howard said. “Sometimes we all get a little bit hot-headed during the game. I just have to remind them, ‘Look up, we’re up by 20, it’s all fun.’”
Rudy Bean scored 23 points and Lloyd Davis had 18 for Kake, which raced out to a 43-27 halftime lead.
Scott Forbes had 24 points, Dan Hotch 12 and Dave Buss 10 for Klukwan, which was making its first title game appearance since 2014. Klukwan lost one of its key players, Jeff Sharnbroich, to a medical emergency mid-tournament, and wasn’t the same without him, going 1-2 after his exit.
“We have a lot of fans that come up, so we want to put on a good show for them,” Bean, the tournament MVP, said. “They expect us to win and so we want to go out and play hard.”
A couple of 3-pointers gave Klukwan some life late in the third quarter. Hotch and Forbes hit 3-pointers to spur a 11-2 run and cut into what was a 20-point deficit. But just as quickly as the lead was halved, it was doubled.
Howard, who had eight points, was his usual disruptive self in the paint, altering shots with his long arms and forcefully corralling rebounds. He’s played in the tournament since 1990, and has won over a dozen championships in various divisions. His buzzer-beater lifted Kake past Hoonah by one point last year in a thrilling 63-62 victory.
“I’ve been waiting for my daughter to play,” Howard said. “I have a daughter, Mackenzie, that passed away four, five years ago. She would be playing on this court today, and then I would not be playing on the court today. I kind of missed it a little bit there, but I had another daughter come down from Washington and she’s staying in Kake now. So I’ll get to see one of my kids play.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.