Metlakatla’s Willie Hayward tallied 17 of his game-high 23 points in the first half and teammate Jason Enright added 12 of his 16 game-points in the same stanza as the boys from Annette Island ran over Sitka 70-47 in Sunday’s opening B bracket game of the 67th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.
“The key was to keep a fast tempo game,” Metlakatla’s Richie Hayward said. “We are young and have fast legs.”
The young legs came from Richie’s younger brother Willie who buried a triple to start game action and registered two more in the first half run. Hayward’s triple at the 4:58 mark game Metlakatla their first 10-point lead of the night and they pushed that to 44-27 at the break.
With Enright and Hayward slashing to the hoop the Metlakatla bigs had easy looks inside.
A basket by Tom Booth, a tip in by R. Hayward and two more by W. Hayward pushed Metlakatla out to a 20-point advantage at the 11:49 mark of the second half.
Sitka’s Rich Didrickson kept the northern boys in the fight with four long-range bombs on the night. Sitka tallied eight triples in the game but could not slow down Metlakatla.
Metlakatla was led by W. Hayward’s 23 points, Enright added 16, Zachary Mills and dean Mahon nine apiece, Tom Booth Jr. six, Clayton Milton three, Mike Henderson and R. Hayward two each.
Rich Didrickson led Sitka with 22 points, Steve Walker and Hunter Lee six each, Chadem Wolfe and Martin Conchas-Michel five apiece.
The referees let both teams play. Metlakatla went to the free throw line just four times and hit two, while Sitka it three of four.
“It was very important to get that win,” Hayward said. “Now we won’t play until Tuesday.”
Hayward will be gone until Thursday but Chris Bryant is supposed to be in town to join the roster and keep the Metlakatla juggernaut moving along the winner’s bracket.
Metlakatla will play at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday against the winner of today’s Wrangell Vs. Haines matchup (3:30 p.m.).