Skagway and Haines played each other in the first round of the Women’s Bracket at the Lions Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament. On Saturday, they’ll also play the final game against each other.
Skagway, in its first Gold Medal appearance, stunned Haines on Sunday with a 62-55 victory. Since then, both teams have run the table en route to a 2 p.m. Saturday rematch that features two teams that play a fast-paced brand of basketball.
In a rematch of the 2018 championship game, Haines defeated Yakutat in Friday’s semifinal, 64-48. Haines’ Fran Daly had a huge game, scoring 18 of her 31 points in the second half. Daly outscored Yakutat on her own in the fourth quarter, 12-10.
Reflecting on last year’s loss to Yakutat in the championship game, Daly broke into a huge smile after Friday’s game.
“It felt good,” Daly said, laughing. “It felt better.”
Haines gained control in the second quarter, taking a 15-point lead into halftime. Yakutat’s Rose Fraker, the reigning Women’s Bracket MVP, started hitting her shots in the third quarter and almost single-handedly cut Haines’ lead to 10 points early in the fourth.
Haines kept switching defenders on Fraker, trying to get players with fresh legs to wear Fraker out. It worked, as Fraker was visibly tired down the stretch and wasn’t quite able to get Yakutat over the hump and back into the game. She ended the game with 19 points, 14 of which came after halftime.
Now Haines players turn their attention to Skagway, which remains undefeated in its one-year Gold Medal history. Skagway, like Haines, has made a habit of wearing teams out with its fast pace, and Saturday’s contest projects to be an up-and-down affair.
Multiple Haines players have said that loss to Skagway on Sunday was in part because they were working new players into the mix and weren’t quite firing on all cylinders yet.
“We felt like we didn’t come out as strong as we could have in that game,” Daly said. “Now we’ve worked on connecting with each other on offense and we certainly feel better on the court together. We haven’t all played as a team all year. We’ve had a couple players come in and join us, so we just needed to get a game under our belts, I think.”
One of those newcomers is Rachel Brittenham, who has sped up Haines’ offense to breakneck speeds. Brittenham, who played college basketball at Wofford College and set the school record for assists, has shown the ability to do a little bit of everything this week. In Friday’s win over Haines, she was diving on the floor for loose balls, whipping half-court passes in transition and hit a 3-point shot to beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter.
Daly has been at the receiving end of many of Brittenham’s passes in transition, scoring many of her points on the run.
“I feel like we’re running a pretty fast game with her,” Daly said. “It’s been fun.”