No one player on the James Gang (Juneau) team possesses the offensive skills of Metlakatla’s Willie Hayward.
But when you combine Sean Joslyn’s shooting, Bill Ehler’s soft touch and Jim Carson’s knack for penetrating defenses — the Juneau team does a pretty good collective impersonation.
Hayward did it all for Metlakatla in the C Bracket semifinals Friday night — scoring 50 points — but came up just short in the win column. The James Gang, one of only two Juneau teams in this year’s Gold Medal Tournament, defeated Metlakatla Friday night 84-74 to advance to Saturday’s C Bracket championship against Klukwan.
Klukwan, 3-0 in the tournament thus far, looks to repeat as C Bracket champions after winning it all last year.
Hayward said his team started shooting too many 3-pointers during its Thursday loss to Klukwan, a trend that continued into the next night against James Gang.
“They were shooting their threes and we were trying to match them also,” Hayward said. “That’s not really our game.”
James Gang racked up nine 3-pointers for 27 points. Billy Ehlers, despite having to guard Hayward for long stretches of the game, scored 20 points to lead all James Gang scorers.
“He’s their main scorer on their team so that was our main goal, was to shut him down,” Ehlers said of Hayward. “I did alright I think, I did the best I could, but our team battled together and it worked well.”
Both teams came out strong in the first half. After five lead changes, James Gang built a nine-point lead at halftime.
In the second half, Metlakatla, thanks largely to Hayward, remained just two or three possessions behind James Gang at any given time.
Hayward brought Metlakatla within one point around the seven-minute mark, but that was the closest they would get the rest of the game.
“They didn’t go for my fakes in the second half like they did in the first half,” Hayward said, who still scored 28 points during that time. “They started triple-teaming me, I should have kicked it back out, but we did all we could.”
•Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.