POW’s Gold Medal Champions: Lillian Borromeo, Molly Sharp, Michaela Demmert, Nani Weimer, Tina Steffen, Elizabeth Isaacs, Kenai Holein and Cassie Williams. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

POW’s Gold Medal Champions: Lillian Borromeo, Molly Sharp, Michaela Demmert, Nani Weimer, Tina Steffen, Elizabeth Isaacs, Kenai Holein and Cassie Williams. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Prince of Wales defeats Yakutat for women’s title at Gold Medal

Prince of Wales claims town’s sixth championship with 79-38 win.

  • By Klas Stolpe For the Juneau Empire
  • Sunday, March 26, 2023 12:02am
  • 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.

Prince of Wales starting forward Cassie Williams was just a little kid when she watched her mother Ann and current teammate Tina Steffen playing in the town’s last Gold Medal Tournament championship win in 2005.

On Saturday roles were reversed as Williams scored a game-high 26 points and earned most valuable player honors with her mother watching from the stands as Prince of Wales claimed their sixth Gold Medal Championship, 79-38, over Yakutat in the 74th annual tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé gymnasium.

“It means a lot,” a tearful Cassie Williams said after hugging her mom. “Last time I was here was in 2005, watching these two play so it is really special to be here and be able to play in a tournament I have watched since I was a kid. My mom flew up to be here…”

Cassie Williams is congratulated by her mother Ann after winning the Women’s Bracket championship and Most Valuable Player honors, Saturday, March 25, during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Cassie Williams is congratulated by her mother Ann after winning the Women’s Bracket championship and Most Valuable Player honors, Saturday, March 25, during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Ann Williams and Tina Steffin have played in all five previous titles for the town (1999, 2001-02 amd ‘05).

“It means a lot,” Steffin said as she broke into tears. “I’ve been here for all of them. I’ve held it together all these years trying to get a team here. It really is cool to have the next generation here with me. I’m the only one left standing out of the old crew. I kept telling them if I got one more I was going to retire, but now… I’m really happy they all made it, they played really well for us.”

The team played so well that they opened with a 12-0 run. Williams buried the game’s first basket from past the arch, added another shot closer in and another later in the stanza. Elizabeth Isaacs hit inside, Nani Weimer hit from distance and Kenai Holein stole a ball and scored.

Yakutat’s first basket came well past the arch as Rose Fraker hit all net with 3:15 left to play in the quarter.

Yakutat’s Rose Fraker (20) shoots over POW’s Nani Weimer (22) during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Saturday, March 25, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Yakutat’s Rose Fraker (20) shoots over POW’s Nani Weimer (22) during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Saturday, March 25, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Prince of Wales would lead 19-8 starting the second stanza and Williams hit the opener and Holein added two more and Michaela Demmert scored a couple to push the margin out to 31-10.

Prince of Wales led 35-19 at the half as Yakutat struggled to hit baskets they had put through the net all tournament long.

“You know I have been coming here for 10 years now,” Yakutat’s Nadine Fraker said after the game. “It’s great that we come every year, it’s what we do. We practice all winter for it just to be around everybody, come play for everyone.”

All though the game was getting out of reach both teams still competed hard. Williams again opened the play with a shot past the arch in the third quarter, Steffen added a basket to her historic scoring list, Williams hit from distance again and the lead was 43-21.

Yakutat’s Nadine Fraker and Janie Jensen found the scoreboard to keep Prince of Wales honest.

The wonderful display of competitive basketball was marred when Yakutat star Rose Fraker suffered a leg injury, lay on the court for minutes and would be unable to return to action.

“We just like to play ball,” Rose Fraker said after the game. “I mean… it means a lot to us. We spend a lot of money, we put in the time, we just love playing in the sport and love playing in front of the people. Representing our home whether we lost or won as long as we have our heart we are fine.”

Yakutat’s heart was evident throughout the tournament and championship game but Prince of Wales pushed the lead out to 56-30 after three quarters and when Molly Sharp scored back-to-back baskets in the fourth quarter the last of the POW old guard had found the books.

Yakutat’s Janie Jensen (23) is fouled by POW’s Tina Steffen during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Saturday, March 25, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Yakutat’s Janie Jensen (23) is fouled by POW’s Tina Steffen during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Saturday, March 25, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Sharp played on a few of the later Prince of Wales tournament teams.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Sharp said. “I haven’t been back here since 2016 when we got second place, so it is pretty exciting to come back and win.”

The final shot of the game swished through from Williams past the arch and the gymnasium applauded both teams.

“I’m just happy to be a part of the team,” Prince of Wales’ Weimer said.

Teammate Holein agreed and teammate Demmert said, “I’m pumped we pulled through. Very happy for us.”

Williams led Prince of Wales with 26 points, Holein added 19, Borromeo 14, Weimer nine, Sharp four, Demmert three, and Steffen and Isaacs two apiece.

“This is a great team to be a part of. Honestly one of the best teams I have been a part of,” and Borromeo added, “It’s my first Gold Medal and it’s been fun. Got a good group of ladies here.”

Yakutat’s Trinity Jackson and POW’s Michaela Demmert battle for a ball as POW’s Tina Steffen, Yakutat’s Lorena Williams and POW’s Lillian Borromeo look on during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Saturday, March 25, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Yakutat’s Trinity Jackson and POW’s Michaela Demmert battle for a ball as POW’s Tina Steffen, Yakutat’s Lorena Williams and POW’s Lillian Borromeo look on during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Saturday, March 25, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Prince of Wales was 0-2 at the free throw line, Yakutat 3-9.

Jensen led Yakutat with 16 points, Rose Fraker 10, Nadine Fraker seven, Lorena Williams three, and Kim Armendariz and Cheyenne Latu one apiece.

Women’s Bracket All-Tournament selections were Yakutat’s Rose Fraker (Yakutat), Tasha Heumann (Angoon), Willow Jackson (Kake), Nadine Fraker (Yakutat), Nani Weimer (POW), Kenai Holien (POW) and Lillian Borromeo (POW).The final two all-tourney selections included special tournament honors: Rachel White (Hoonah) also won the Sportsmanship Award and Cassie Williams won the MVP.

“I can’t believe it has been over 20 years ago,” Ann Williams said as she watched her daughter collect an All-Tournament medal and MVP trophy. “But it is sure fun to watch her play. Ever since elementary school I have spent a lot of time watching her.”

All of Prince of Wales’ six titles have been in the Women’s Bracket.

Yakutat (9 titles) last won the Women’s Bracket in 2018 and also won in 2014.

Pow’s Cassie Williams is fouled by Yakutat’s Nadine Fraker (10) in the Women’s Championship game of the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Saturday, March 25, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

Pow’s Cassie Williams is fouled by Yakutat’s Nadine Fraker (10) in the Women’s Championship game of the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, Saturday, March 25, at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Klas Stolpe/For the Juneau Empire)

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