Haines’ Rachel Brittenham drives to the basket against Kake’s Monica Ashenfelter, left, and Hannah Ashenfelter at the Juneau Lions Club 73rd Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Haines won 67-20. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Haines’ Rachel Brittenham drives to the basket against Kake’s Monica Ashenfelter, left, and Hannah Ashenfelter at the Juneau Lions Club 73rd Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Haines won 67-20. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Stayin’ alive: Yakutat, Haines survive early elimination games

Masters, Women’s bracket teams stay alive with shooting, fast pace

In Gold Medal elimination games, you want a player like Jerry Riddlington in your corner — literally.

As Riddlington’s Yakutat squad sought to stay alive in the Masters Bracket, Sitka refused to go away and cut Yakutat’s lead to 12 points twice in the fourth quarter. Both times, Riddlington hit a three-pointer from the corner to extend Yakutat’s lead and help its fans breathe a little easier.

Riddlington hit a trio of 3s in the fourth quarter, propelling his team to a 66-49 win to stay alive in the tournament. Riddlington, who just turned 44, said he’s had to change his game over the years to become more of a shooter and that the corner three is his favorite shot.

“When you get all these injuries to your ankles, you kind of get smart about not driving to the hole anymore, so you kind of just pick your spot for shooting instead of driving,” Riddlington said.

[Follow along with the action on our live blog]

His teammates also picked their spots well late in the game. Yakutat only made five field goals in the final quarter, but four of them were threes. Gary Klushkan led the way with 18 points for Yakutat, which advances to play in the 10 a.m. game Thursday against the winner of the Angoon-Hoonah Wednesday night game.

Yakutat’s Ralph Johnson, left, shoots against Sitka’s Ray Kitka in a masters bracket game at the Juneau Lions Club 73rd Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Yakutat won 66-49. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Yakutat’s Ralph Johnson, left, shoots against Sitka’s Ray Kitka in a masters bracket game at the Juneau Lions Club 73rd Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Yakutat won 66-49. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sitka’s Sean Joslyn led all scorers in Wednesday’s elimination game, putting up 27 points in the losing effort. Though Yakutat led by double digits for much of the game, it felt closer than that. Yakutat only led by four points after the first quarter, and Joslyn seemed unstoppable at times as Sitka tried to mount a comeback.

It ended up not being enough, though, as Yakutat was able to close out the victory with the shooting of Riddlington and others.

“It’s either win or go home,” Riddlington said. “Give it all today, and if you lose you lose and if you win you stay another day, live another day, play another day.”

Haines women advance in convincing fashion

After starting the tournament with a close loss, the Haines women weren’t taking any chances in their elimination game against Kake. Haines — which won the 2016 and 2017 titles and appeared in the championship game in 2018 — outpaced Kake from the start, jumping out to a 24-point halftime lead and finishing with a 67-20 victory.

Kake’s Monica Ashenfelter, left, drives against Haines’ Rachel Brittenham at the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at JDHS on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Kake’s Monica Ashenfelter, left, drives against Haines’ Rachel Brittenham at the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at JDHS on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Skagway — a team many believe is the first women’s team from Skagway to ever play in Gold Medal — defeated Haines on Sunday by a 62-55 margin. Rachel Brittenham, playing for Haines in her first-ever Gold Medal appearance, said she thought the new-look Haines team was still getting on the same page during that game, and found its stride against Kake.

Brittenham said they wanted to run fast, and they did just that against Kake. Brittenham sprinted her way to 25 points, pacing the aggressive Haines squad.

“We know that we can definitely push the ball, so we had that run-first mentality, and look for each other, look for our shots and be active on defense,” Brittenham said, “and I think we did that.”

[Game Schedule, Brackets and More: Read our Gold Medal 2019 Special Section here]

Fran Daly added 17 points for Haines, and Louise Kadake led the way for Kake with 10 points.

Brittenham lives in Colorado, but her parents live in Haines and she’s been regularly coming to Haines for the past 20 years and considers it her second home. Through two games at Gold Medal, she said she’s been blown away by the atmosphere.

“It’s amazing,” Brittenham said. “The type of support here was more than anything I was expecting. The fact that they have so many fans traveling from all these villages, it’s an energy that you rarely see anywhere else. I think it’s really special.”

Haines men leave no doubt

Hoonah’s Justen Samuels, right, drives against Haines’ Dylon Swinton in a B bracket game at the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Hoonah’s Justen Samuels, right, drives against Haines’ Dylon Swinton in a B bracket game at the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

It was over almost as soon as it began.

The defending B Bracket champion Haines raced out to a 22-0 start against Hoonah, building that lead to above 30 before halftime and cruising to a 67-32 victory. With the win, Haines advanced in the loser’s bracket, poised for a matchup with either Hydaburg or Kake. Hydaburg defeated Haines on Sunday, sending Haines to the loser’s bracket.

Haines only played seven players, and three of them did almost all the scoring for Haines against Hoonah. Tyler Swinton led the way with 35 points, and Dylon Swinton and Kyle Fossman each scored 15. Tyler Swinton sunk seven three-pointers. Tyler Watkins scored more than half of Kake’s points, finishing with 17.

Wednesday’s victory was Haines’ second in the loser’s bracket, coming after a 97-51 victory over the Alternates — a team of last-minute additions — on Tuesday.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in Sports

Victor Martinez is awarded the Alaska Fighting Championship bantamweight title on Feb. 26 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Maria Bundy)
Hitting the big time: Soldotna man signs 4-fight deal with UFC

He will take his 7-2 professional record into a UFC Fight Night 181 matchup.

Members of the Juneau Ski Club take ski during a Sunday recreation day. (Courtesy photo / Frankie Pillifant)
Nordic Ski Club and teams prepare to ski into season

It’s easy to distance skiing on the trails.

Eaglecrest Ski Area is preparing for a winter sports season in the time of the coronavirus with a planned opening date of Dec. 5, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Charlie Herrington)
Eaglecrest readies for winter sports season

Equipment rentals require prefitting with the supplier.

Courtesy Photos / Eric HansonThunder Mountain High School junior Kiah Dihle runs her way to an eighth-place finish Saturday at the state cross country meet.
Juneau cross country teams end strange season with strong finish

The race was the first and last in-person race of the season.

Courtesy photos / Debbie LowenthalAbove, Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School students Rayna Tuckwood (right) and Skylar Tuckwood (left) race at the Thunder Mountain High School cross country race course during a regionals meet Oct. 3. Below, Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School students Tim Degener (right) and Finn Morely (left) compete in the boys division.
Juneau runners raring to rout rival racers in state meet

This will be one of the first all-up state competitions since the pandemic began.

Associated Press                                In this March 2017 photo, volunteer handlers guide teams out of the dog yard and down the chute to the starting line of the 45th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Fairbanks, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race will go forward in 2021, and officials are preparing for every potential contingency now for what the coronavirus and the world might look like in March when the Iditarod starts.
Iditarod preps for any scenario as 2021 race plans proceed

The world’s most famous sled dog race will go forward in 2021.

The Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance and City and Borough of Juneau are collaborating to finish a new pump track for bicycle riders in Cope Park, due to be finished within weeks, Sept. 16, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Outdoors pump track work is ramping up

Cope Park is about to have a new way to keep entertained.

Coach Merry Ellefson compliments runners on a job well done after a race. (Courtesy Photo / Debbie Lowenthall)
Long-distance running meets socially distanced competition

Team spirit carries Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School’s runners on where others falter.

Matt Boline demonstrates a drill during a recent workout with players in the 12-and-under group workout at Treadwell Ice Arena. (Courtesy Photo / Steve Quinn)
Photos: It’s heating up on the ice

Juneau Douglas Ice Association’s youth hockey season is underway at Treadwell Ice Arena.

Alan Stuart/Pair of Thieves                                 This photo shows Doug Peterson posed recently in Pacific City, Ore., next to the camper van that will accompany him on a nearly 1,500-mile bike ride to raise awareness for National Suicide Prevention Month. Peterson is riding his bike from the Canadian border to the Mexican border during the month of September, raising money with the support of apparel company Pair of Thieves and awareness for National Suicide Prevention Month.
Oregon man rides from Canada to Mexico for suicide awareness

He will ride across the country during National Suicide Prevention Month.

Capital Kennel Club of Juneau stays dogged, holds first post-pandemic trials
Capital Kennel Club of Juneau stays dogged, holds first post-pandemic trials

Past events had been scratched — and not behind the ears.

Runners jog through a haze of colored powder as they begin a 5k run through downtown Juneau on Sunday, April 29, 2018. (Richard McGrail / Juneau Empire File)
Some local color: Downtown run is coming up

DBA partnered with the J-D Cross Country team will host the 2020 DBA Color Run.