Klukwan's Russ Stevens (23) scores against Hoonah's Michael Mills (1) during Masters Bracket action in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Monday, March 20, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Klukwan wins battle of boards to defeat Hoonah in Masters Bracket

Win puts Chilkat Thunder into Thursday semifinals

  • By Klas Stolpe For the Juneau Empire
  • Tuesday, March 21, 2023 9:22am
  • 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.

The Klukwan Chilkat Thunder outlasted Hoonah 87-71 during Monday action at the 74th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé gymnasium.

Klukwan’s Erik McCormick hit the game opener from beyond the arch but Klukwan’s game would become the fast break as they hit the boards hard behind Russ Stevens and Jeff Sharnbroich and let Scott Forbes and Jason Shull run the court.

Forbes and Shull both collected six points in the first quarter as Klukwan took an 18-15 advantage.

Hoonah would lose big man Mark Pepich early in the quarter and rely on Michael Mills, Andy Gray and Joe Coronell to fight for the inside while Albert Hinchman and Kamal Lindoff handled a majority of the outside shooting early.

Klukwan jumped out to a 10-point advantage in the second quarter with Forbes getting free on the wing and Shull and Dave Buss finding shots past the arch.

“I think we just had a lot of guys that had some legs,” Klukwan’s Scott Forbes said. “We’ve been playing a lot in town here and in Haines and I think we have some guys that are ready to run the court and not get too tired. And we move the ball around. We found ourselves open a lot. It is a lot of good ball movement. And I think we played some good defense. Hoonah is a great team.”

Hoonah’s Kamal Lindoff hit a pair of free throws and his third shot past the arch in the stanza to pull his team to within five points and the two sides traded baskets into the half with Klukwan up 42-34.

Hoonah made a run for the lead to open the second half as Mills hit inside and Hinchman and Lindoff hit back-to-back shots past the arch to pull within one point, 42-41.

Dave Buss hit a deep shot for a 45-41 Klukwan lead and when Hoonah’s Hinchman brought the game back to 45-44 Forbes got free again for a 47-44 lead. Klukwan would keep the advantage and build a 60-51 lead after three quarters.

“I think getting back on defense and finding all the shooters was key,” Klukwan’s Erik McCormick said. “We all played against each other for 30 years so it is easy to find them, it just harder to catch them.”

Hoonah’s Mills opened the final quarter with a put back shot to pull within seven points, 60-53, but Klukwan’s Buss was fouled on a three-point shot and made all three for a 10 point advantage, 63-53.

Klukwan would go on a 10-5 run to take control of the game and outwork Hoonah on the glass down the stretch for the 87-71 win.

“We don’t really need to fix anything,” Hoonah coach Greg Garcia said. “We battled to within one point. Just a couple bad breaks. We’ll be back. And it was unfortunate one of our players got hurt but he will be back next game and we are just going to try and play Huna ball. We were in the game. It was just one of those things. That’s basketball.”

Forbes led Klukwan with 23 points, Shull added 17, Stevens 15, Buss 12, Sharnbroich 11 and McCormick nine.

Klukwan hit 22-35 from the free throw line, Hoonah 10-21.

Lindoff led Hoonah with 20 points, Hinchman added 12, Mills 10, Coronell eight, Gray and Kenny Willard three apiece, and Gary Smith and Pepich two apiece.

Klukwan advances to Thursday’s 9 p.m. semifinal against Juneau. Hoonah plays a Wednesday elimination game at 12:30 p.m. against Angoon.

Hoonah last won the Masters bracket in 2017, an 80-75 win over Kake, and lost to Kake in the 2018 title clash 63-62.

Klukwan lost in the 2019 Gold Medal Masters Championship game to Kake, 75-64.

Hoonah’s Adam Lee (21) and Louie White Jr. (35) strip a ball from Klukwan’s Jeff Sharnbroich during Masters Bracket action in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Monday, March 20, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Hoonah’s Adam Lee (21) and Louie White Jr. (35) strip a ball from Klukwan’s Jeff Sharnbroich during Masters Bracket action in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Monday, March 20, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Klukwan’s Jeff Forbes (5) scores over Hoonah’s Louie White Jr. (35) during Masters Bracket action in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Monday, March 20, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Klukwan’s Jeff Forbes (5) scores over Hoonah’s Louie White Jr. (35) during Masters Bracket action in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Monday, March 20, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

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