Haines entered Saturday’s Women’s Bracket championship game looking for its third title in a row. Yakutat had other ideas, pulling away in the second half en route to a 65-53 victory.
Rose Fraker, who scored 12 points Saturday and was named tournament MVP, said the victory carried even more importance than merely winning the game.
“This tournament meant a lot for us because Haines is a bigger community than any of the villages that participate,” Fraker said, “so it’s kind of a bigger deal that we came in and were able to beat them and bring it back to the village.”
This isn’t an underdog story, though, as Yakutat finished the week undefeated, winning its three games by an average of 11 points per game. They spread out the scoring between seven players Saturday, led by All-Tournament player Lorena Williams’ 19 points. Fran Daly, who also made the All-Tournament Team, led Haines with 23 points.
Williams scored eight of her points during a decisive third-quarter run that gave Yakutat the cushion it needed to win.
Yakutat, which had last won the bracket title in 2014, doubled up Haines in third-quarter scoring, 18-9. The run continued into the fourth quarter, when Yakutat built its lead to as many as 13 points.
Fraker said it was nothing more than communicating well in the quarter and taking what the Haines defense gave them. The Yakutat women had been regularly playing against the Yakutat men’s team, Fraker said, which pushed them a little harder and forced them to have crisper passes.
That was apparent in the second half, as Yakutat took care of the ball and Haines committed a few costly turnovers. Haines never seemed to fade, though, as they continued playing aggressive defense into the final minute.
Haines had two All-Tournament players in Daly and Alisa Beske, while Yakutat had Williams and Kim Buller on the team in addition to Fraker winning MVP.
Haines’ Samantha Clay, who finished the game with six points, said Yakutat’s shooting was the difference in the game. Once Yakutat grabbed control of the game, Clay said, it was hard to fight back into it.
“It’s hard to come from behind and get momentum to swing your way,” Clay said. “We’ll be gunning for them next year.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.