So much for depth being overrated.
Hoonah took it to Klukwan in C Bracket action Wednesday during the 65th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament, outplaying the Chilkats in nearly every aspect of the game in a 109-87 romp at Juneau-Douglas High School.
But Hoonah had a clear advantage from the tip.
With only one reserve available for the game, Klukwan’s bench was outnumbered six to one, and that discrepancy proved a big factor in the final score.
Hoonah rushed to an 18-4 lead in the first several minutes of the game and that deficit, coupled with its rail-thin bench, was too much for Klukwan in the end.
While Hoonah seemed to make it look easy, it wasn’t quite as simple for one of its team leaders, Kamal Lindoff.
“It wasn’t easy for me; I just turned 37,” he chuckled. “It was nice to sit down with the bench players, but Lucas (Johnson) and Albert (Hinchman) were just on fire. That’s how we got that lead.”
Hinchman and Johnson combined for 40 points — 21 and 19, respectively — including five 3-pointers apiece in the rout.
Lindoff said it was nice to grab a win after losing a tight 88-83 contest to defending bracket champion Kake on Monday.
“We struggled the other night against Kake,” he said. “Albert’s shot was off a little bit in that game, but we got a little rest and I think that’s all we needed.”
Hoonah began Wednesday a little differently than previous games, starting big man Tierny Bible rather than bringing him off the bench. The move worked as Hoonah rolled from the start, holding a double-digit lead for about 37 of the 40 minutes.
With Bible starting in the middle and outside shooters bombing away, Hoonah looked like a team that can threaten Kakeh’s five-year championship dynasty in the C Bracket.
Hinchman’s 21 points were a team high, followed closely by Johnson’s 19. Bible rounded out the double-digit scorers with 16 points.
Jason Shull and Aaron Nash led the way for Klukwan with 28 points apiece, while Danny Thomas and David Buss accounted for 14 and 10, respectively.
With the win, Hoonah advanced to play the Yakutat/Angoon winner at 2 p.m. today for the chance to make it to Friday’s loser’s bracket finals. The winner of that game earns a spot in the bracket championship game.
Klukwan has been eliminated from Gold Medal contention.
Johnston’s eight free throws propel Yakutat
Wednesday night’s C Bracket game wasn’t a picture of offensive artistry after a half of play, but Yakutat and Angoon would give the Gold Medal crowd a game to remember in perhaps the most heated battle of the tournament so far.
Ralph Johnston went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe down the stretch as Yakutat held off Angoon in the final minutes for a 64-59 win to advance in the loser’s bracket of the 65th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament.
It was an ugly first half with the teams combining for just 49 points, but the intensity picked up in the second. Angoon had plenty of chances down the stretch after erasing a double-digit deficit. But Yakutat never allowed the opposition within two points.
“We just kept chipping away and going, just playing through the turnovers and the small stuff,” Yakutat’s Mike Jensen said. “We knew they’d give us a tough battle, even when we went up early in the game.”
Jensen said the plan was to limit Frank Jack III offensively, and that they did, holding him to only nine points in the game.
“We just kept throwing a man on (Jack III),” he said. “It was man to man the whole game, but more like a box-and-one. Whoever was guarding Frank didn’t leave him.”
With so much attention being paid to Jack III, Kevin Mitchell and Ben Johnson picked up the slack for Angoon with 18 and 16 points, respectively. Despite closing within two points late in the game, Angoon never led.
Jensen said Yakutat doesn’t have much opportunity to play together over the course of the year, so the plan was to keep it simple.
“We just try to keep moving and stay positive, and we kept chipping away,” he said. “I was missing free throws. If I had the ball I was the one to foul. But we kept working the ball and, luckily, our guys shot 80 to 90 percent from the line during the game.
“That’s what won the game for us down the stretch.”
Both sides were physical as the game got a bit chippy, fueling a raucous crowd at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Johnston had 20 points to lead all scorers, including 11 of 12 from the line, and Jensen added 18.
Angoon scored 39 points after halftime, almost twice its total from the first half. Yakutat scored 35 points in the second, and it was just enough to hang on for the win.
“This gives us confidence going forward. We’re positive though,” Jensen said. “Even if we come out and lose tomorrow, we came out and did what we needed to do, and that’s get some wins.”
Yakutat plays Hoonah at 2 p.m. today in another C Bracket elimination game.