In this March 24, 2018 photo, Haines’ Christine Hansen drives against Yakutat’s Janie Jensen during the Women’s final in the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this March 24, 2018 photo, Haines’ Christine Hansen drives against Yakutat’s Janie Jensen during the Women’s final in the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Skagway women poised to make Gold Medal debut

Team might be first of its kind at annual tournament

This year’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament will feature a rare sight — a team from Skagway.

This Skagway team is even more notable, because it might be the first time Skagway has ever had a women’s team at the annual tournament. Tiffanie Potter, one of the organizers of the team, said she’s asked around and nobody in town can recall a women’s team from Skagway ever participating in Gold Medal.

Speaking by phone from Skagway, Potter said Skagway produces plenty of basketball players, but it doesn’t seem to keep them.

“There’s not enough of us who grew up playing basketball here that have come back,” Potter said, “until this last year.”

A couple women graduated from college and moved back to town recently, Potter said, and a group of at least eight players is signed up to come down to Juneau for the tournament that starts March 17. It’s the first team, in any bracket, that Skagway is sending to Juneau since sometime in the 1980s, Potter said.

She and a few of the other players have been scrimmaging against the Skagway High School’s girls basketball team for a while, Potter said, and the idea to play in the tournament hatched there.

“Gold Medal got brought up one day after a scrimmage,” Potter said. “We were just sitting there talking and we all kind of committed to the idea, not really thinking it was going to happen, I think.”

Contrary to that expectation, the team came together. They sent in their letter of interest to the Juneau Lion’s Club (which runs the event), and the Lion’s Club approved and invited them to be part of the tournament. Skagway joins Angoon, Haines, Hoonah, Kake and Yakutat (the defending champion) in the women’s field.

Skagway has only one Gold Medal title to its name, claiming the 1973 B Bracket championship. Though this year’s team is new to the field, Potter said she hopes they can make some noise in this year’s tournament.

“We definitely want to go and put up a bit of competition,” Potter said. “We don’t want to go and just get totally stomped, so hopefully that doesn’t happen.”

The community of Skagway has already started supporting the team, Potter said, with donations and encouragement. There’s already a buzz around the team that this dream is about to come true.

“We’re just really excited and super grateful that the Lions Club invited us to join this tournament,” Potter said. “It’s something that I know all of us have really wanted to do for years, really.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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