Two local teams took home first place trophies from the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau, which wrapped up Saturday.
The Klukwan Men’s C bracket team beat five other competitors for the gold. The men bested Metlakatla Saturday with a final score of 100-90. Andrew Friske, Jason Shull and Jesse McGraw were top scorers.
The other local champions were the Haines Women. The team was formed less than a year ago and had never competed in Gold Medal before. But they knocked out three other teams to win the championship.
Alisa Beske is one of the founding members of the women’s league. She says their inexperience competing together tripped them up few times.
“We started not really completely comfortable playing together as a team. I think we all were pretty nervous about the tournament.”
Even though the women didn’t play their best, they won their first game against Hoonah. But they were knocked down a couple notches when they lost to Craig Thursday. Beske says Craig was able to take advantage of Haines’ zone defense. The women lost that game, and were bumped into the loser’s bracket.
But they fought their way out of the loser’s bracket by beating Hoonah again on Friday. That victory sent them to the championship game against Craig on Saturday.
“The game started looking at little bit like our previous game with them. They had about a 10-point lead within the first probably eight minutes of the game. And then something clicked and I think we shook off the jitters of the game and we were able to get some three-pointers.”
Beske says those three-pointers came from Krista Kielsmeier, Stoli Lynch and Sam Clay. The aggressive game resulted in a score of 54-49.
“Yeah it was really, really exciting. I think we kind of came into the tournament, a lot of us not knowing what to expect at all. We had anticipated it for so long and had worked hard to make it happen. It’s pretty exciting to come in, first year after a long time and win the championship.”
Beske was named Most Valuable Player in the women’s tournament. She says the team was helped by Jason Shull and Don Nash, who coached during games.
Beske says the quick success of the team is a good sign for the future of the women’s basketball league in Haines. She says they are hoping to play in more tournaments next year and maybe even start a women’s competition locally.
Three other Haines and Klukwan teams competed in Gold Medal. The Haines Men’s B team and the Klukwan Masters were one win away from making it to the championship games. Angoon won the B bracket and Kake won the Masters bracket.