The refs are letting them play at the 2012 Gold Medal Basketball Tournament and that was obvious in a “C” bracket afternoon thriller that gave Klukwan an 89-80 win and put Hoonah into a Tuesday losers’ bracket matchup against Metlakatla.
“It was pretty physical but it is nothing new for Gold Medal basketball,” Klukwan’s Andrew Friske said. “If you don’t bring your physical toughness and your mental toughness you are going to be in sad shape. You can’t argue with the refs you just have to play through it.”
Friske was a hand full for the Hoonah defense, scoring 15 of his game-high 35 points in the first half even when his arms were pulled down on jump shots and held on drives to the rim. But the calls were going both ways and Hoonah still had a 44-41 halftime lead and the score would stay within six point swings the rest of the way.
“It is usually pretty consistent on both sides,” Friske said. “They let us play. We got away with some hard contact and so did they. We just made a couple shots there at the end, and their shooters got a little tired at the end.”
With 4:46 remaining in the game Hoonah’s Kamal Lindoff hit two free throws to pull the team within two at 77-75 and Albert Hinchman ripped a big defensive rebound and fed Andy Gray for the tying basket.
Klukwan’s Friske came right back with a deuce and Hoonah’s Lucas Johnson hit one free throw to bring the score back within one at 78-79.
Then the physical play saw Hinchman receiving a no-call and then fouling Friske under the hoop. Friske’s shot went in and Hinchman was whistled for an intentional foul giving Friske two free throws and Klukwan the ball back.
Hinchman was whistled for his fifth foul, an offensive charge on the next possession, and had to take on coaching duties at the bench with a minute remaining in the game.
A tip in by Hoonah’s Gary Brown Jr. brought the team within six at 86-80 but Klukwan hit three straight charity stripe freebies for the win.
Jason Shull added 19 for Klukwan, Jackie Wyatt 11, Rueben Lowen nine, David Buss seven, Danny Thomas and Aaron Nash three apiece, and Neil Erickson two.
Hinchmen led Hoonah with 27 points including five three-pointers, Lindoff added 23 points, Gray 14, Lucas Johnson and Teirney Bible seven apiece, and Brown Jr. two.
Klukwan hit 19-27 from the free throw line, Hoonah went 9-16.
“It was pretty tough,” Hinchman said. “After playing open gym all winter long you come in and have refs and it is a whole different scene. The guys on the other team are just as fast or faster than you. I kind of lost my head there at the end but they really got to us. It was basically our first time getting together this season. We’ll get back into it.”
Klukwan will play Kake, another opening round winner, at 2 p.m. today.
Hoonah faces Metlakatla at 2 p.m. Tuesday in an elimination game.