Metlakatla won’t be headed back down the ‘Salt Water Passage’ to Annette Island any time soon, especially if they keep playing the game that sent Hoonah home on the losing end of an 81-76 score Tuesday.
Metlakatla’s Tom Booth Jr. put on a clinic of inside post play and Hoonah’s Albert Hinchman taught a few classes from outside the three-point line in a ‘C’ bracket elimination game for the ages.
“We gave it our all,” Hinchman said. “One thing our coach used to say is if you give it all you got, no matter what the score, at the end of the game you can be proud of your effort anyway.”
And Gold Medal fans can be proud of both teams as they provided a show.
Booth and Rich Hayward scored the first two buckets of the game but Huna went on a 10-0 run as Hinchman, Andy Gray and Tierney Bible found the basket.
Then Booth, Kevin Young and Hayward went for back-to-back-back buckets to regain the lead.
And that was the tone of the game.
Hinchman began the first of his long-range work with a three to take the lead for Huna once again. Then Booth tied it for Metlakatla with an up-and-under move at the 11:50 mark of the first half. Bible gave the lead to Hoonah and Hayward tied it for Metlakatla. In all, the game brought nine ties and eight lead changes in the first half with Metlakatla sitting on a 39-30 lead starting the second stanza of action.
Young would take control of the game at the point guard position for Metlakatla in the second half, scoring 16 of his 18-game points. Young’s selection included three from beyond the arch and hitting 5-6 at the free throw line.
Metlakatla, however, gave Huna numerous chances to get the lead back at the end by missing six of their 14 free throws in the final three minutes.
“That is what we need to work on,” Archie Dundas said. “That and our passing. We feel a lot better now that we have had two games together. We are rolling a lot better now. I am hoping we go by 20 this next game.”
The Metlakatla defense stayed strong in the final minute, not allowing a shot from beyond the arch and not fouling.
Hayward grabbed the final rebound and passed to Young who was fouled and sank the free throw to make the game a two-possession affair for Hoonah with just three seconds remaining.
“I thought we had them at the end,” Hinchman said. “It seemed like every time we made a little run they would answer and score. We just couldn’t get a stop or get ahead. We missed some easy ones down the stretch. The game was really good, we have played against most those guys through the years and the sportsmanship on the floor was awesome. It felt like we were in a battle the whole game.”
Booth led Metlakatla with 27 points, Hayward added 19, Young 18, Archie Dundas nine, Chris Mowers four, Trinity Jackson and Frank Guthrie two apiece.
Hinchman led Hoonah with 26 points, including four from beyond the arch. Gray added 20 points, Kamal Lindoff and Bible 12 apiece, and Charlie Wright Jr. and Adam Lee three apiece, both from beyond the three-point line.
Metlakatla was just 13-25 at the charity stripe while Hoonah went 12-16.
“Oh man that was a tough one,” Tom Booth said. “That was a dang tough one. I couldn’t hit a free throw to save my life. The rest of the team came through and bailed us out. It is a good thing to have hard working teammates.”
Metlakatla next plays Yakutat in today’s ‘C’ bracket elimination game at 2 p.m.
“It is different to be the first one out of the tournament,” Hinchman said. “That has never happened to me. It just goes to show that at the end of Gold Medal you have to get back out there and get in the gym and continue to stay in shape and stay healthy. It gets harder to keep the knees going. We were excited to be here and we gave it our best shot.
Juneau Filcom stopped Angoon 74-64 in an evening elimination game.
Jim Carson led Filcom with 24 points and Ruther Echiverri added 11.
Angoon was led by Kevin Mitchell’s 17 points and Ed Kookesh added 11.