Competition in the Gold Medal Tournament’s C Bracket began with two games that stood in stark contrast to each other. While the first contest was decided in the opening minutes, the second game of the day came down to the final moments.
That second game, an afternoon contest between Filcom and AK Cache’s James Gang, started out with both teams struggling from the floor. In the second half, however, both teams began to heat up, and Filcom ended up outlasting the first-year James Gang team 59-51.
Mike Lim, Filcom’s coach, was pleased with the way his team played defense down the stretch.
“We played great defense,” Lim said. “Our rotation was great, but we’ve got to work on our offense, basically. We’ve been playing together for a while now, so let’s keep on going.”
Filcom built a double-digit lead early in the second half, but James Gang continued to hang around thanks in part to Jim Carson, who scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime. James Gang is made of a number of players who have played in Gold Medal in the past, but they haven’t played together much.
James Gang coach Alex Heumann pointed out that the team has a great deal of previous individual experience, but the lack of on-court chemistry cost the team Sunday.
“The issue that we had today, which kind of seemed obvious, was that they hadn’t played together,” Heumann said. “We probably had 20 turnovers, a lot of good wide-open shots that just didn’t fall.”
The Filcom lead was down to four points in the game’s final minute, but multiple James Gang turnovers and just enough Filcom free throws helped seal the victory. Filcom’s Rob Ridgeway led all scorers with 17 points, scoring six of them from the foul line in the second half.
Not everything went Filcom’s way, but the team did just enough to advance to the next game of the winner’s bracket, set for Monday at 12:30 p.m.
“I think it was just those first-day Gold Medal jitters,” Lim said.
The team they’ll face in Monday’s game appeared to have none of those jitters, however.
Klukwan, the defending champions, rolled through a shorthanded Kake team to start off the tournament, claiming an 85-54 victory. Andrew Friske scored a game-high 18 points for Klukwan, doing much of his damage in the paint. He found open looks from offensive rebounds but also off impressive ball movement from his teammates.
“This is kind of what we’ve been doing since high school,” Friske said. “It’s the same core of guys since high school and probably our 20th Gold Medal we’ve played in.”
That chemistry was clear from the start, as the ball flew in and out of the paint with a speed that was too much for Kake — which dressed just six players for the game — to handle. Klukwan had more players make a three (eight) than Kake had players participate, with Stuart Dewitt leading the way with four of Klukwan’s 14 threes.
Kake will face off against James Gang in Tuesday’s loser’s bracket game at 2 p.m.
The start is more promising than Klukwan’s start in 2016, when a first-round loss sent the team into the loser’s bracket. Though Friske and his longtime teammates used to not mind dropping the first game of the tournament, they don’t quite have the ability to continue their fast-paced style of play for that many games anymore.
“Now that we’re getting older, we don’t like losing as much,” Friske said. “We used to not mind losing that first game because then we get more games and get our money’s worth out of the tournament. Now that we’re older, we’re trying not to lose our first game. Hopefully it doesn’t throw us off too much.”
Yakutat 62, Hoonah 59
Martin Sensmeier’s 3-pointer at the end of regulation vaulted Yakutat over Hoonah Sunday afternoon in their first round matchup. Sensmeier finished with 17 points for Yakutat.
Donald Dybdahl and Kamal Lindoff combined for 33 points for Hoonah, whose team made 18 of 30 free throws.
Metlakatla 85, Angoon 72
Metlakatla’s Willie Hayward scored a game-high 36 points to lead his team past Angoon. Wilson James made four of Angoon’s nine 3-pointers.
Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org