2012 Gold Medal B bracket runner-up Haines had their hands full with Wrangell on Monday.
The Merchants could not put the Stikine River boys away as the Thunderbirds, playing their second game in as many days, overcame an early 8-3 Haines run and played to a 38-35 halftime advantage. The Thunderbirds hit seven triples in the half but only one in the second. The Merchants used a series of backdoor cuts if center Ben Egolf could not find post position but lost the battle on the boards in the second half 43-38. Brad Angerman pulled down 11 rebounds for Wrangell and Egolf nine for Haines.
Haines went on a 6-0 run to open the second half as Haines’ Tyler Healy continued his Gold Medal dominance with two baskets and Kyle Rush added another before Wrangell’s Ryan Howell blocked a shot and it turned into a basket on the other end by Dustin Johnson.
The game featured six lead changes in the final 10-minutes of play.
With a two-point advantage at the 2:37 mark, Wrangell spread the floor and drew a foul that netted Kevin Young a charity striper and a 56-54 lead.
Healy sank a triple on the next possession and Haines had the lead with 2:15 remaining.
A fast break off that make put Young on a layup for Wrangell’s final points of the game and a short-lived 58-57 advantage.
Healy would score on a runner five seconds later for a 59-58 lead and Haines went 5-6 from the charity stripe down the stretch for the win.
“We just tried to stay tough,” Healy said. “We fought for loose balls and battled for rebounds. They fought hard, as Wrangell always does. We played against a lot of these guys in high school and they always had our number. We haven’t seen this hard of competition in a while. This game was a lot of fun.”
Healy led Haines with 25 points, Rush added 11, Ben Egolf and Michael Ganey nine apiece, Dave Berry eight, James Hart and Harry Reitze two each.
The Merchants were 14-20 at the charity stripe, the Thunderbirds went 8-18.
Cody Angerman and Kevin Young led Wrangell with 13 points apiece, Tony Harding, Graham Gablehouse and Jason Clark had eight each, Keith Young and Dustin Johnson three apiece, and Ryan Howell two.
Wrangell plays Klukwan in an elimination game today at 12:30 p.m., Haines plays Metlakatla at 3:30 today.