Watching Haines in the second quarter of the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal B Bracket championship game Saturday night, one would think they were trying to mount a comeback.
Hurried ball and player movement and lots of 3-point shots, Haines played like it needed to put up points in a hurry.
After taking a single-digit first quarter lead, Haines sought to put the game away in the second quarter. The plan worked well. Thanks to a 19-point halftime advantage, they were able to sustain a fourth-quarter Klukwan push and win 83-66.
It was the fourth win of the tournament for Haines and the eighth in a row at the Gold Medal tournament. Haines won the B Bracket championship last year, too.
“We’ve all played so much together, when we get back together, it takes about a game and we start gelling,” said Haines guard Kyle Rush, the B Bracket MVP. “It’s such a great opportunity to be able to play in a tournament like this where you actually have fans coming and there is passion. It’s hard not to give it just everything you got and be excited about being here.”
Rush led the way for Haines with 21 points, including 16 in the first half. Kyle Fossman and Tyler Healy scored 15 points apiece.
Klukwan’s Austin Shoemaker scored a team-high 14 points while Kaleb Tompkins and Jacob Hotch each had 12 points.
After going down 19 points at halftime, Klukwan knew it needed to play smarter defense.
“We weren’t making enough stops, we weren’t talking to each other enough and it was killing us in the first half,” Hotch said.
So after getting outscored 30-16 in the second quarter, Klukwan upped its defensive intensity in the third. That paid off because they held Haines scoreless through the first four minutes of the quarter while going on a 10-2 run.
Haines called a timeout at the 5 minutes, 54 seconds mark, and Healy picked up his play, creating turnovers and scoring the final five points in the quarter.
The score was 61-47 going into the fourth quarter, but Klukwan kept up its attack.
Tompkins cut the lead to six, the lowest it had been since the first quarter, with two free throws at 6:14 of the fourth. He then blocked Fossman on the other end, but the play seemed to have the opposite of the normal effect.
The 2017 B Bracket MVP went on a quick five-point scoring surge to put Haines back up double figures.
Haines’ Kyle Fossman talks about the keys to winning in the #2018GoldMedal championship game over Klukwan. Haines defeated Klukwan 83-66 for their second consecutive B Bracket title. pic.twitter.com/OzN9eySreb— Empire Sports (@akempiresports) March 25, 2018
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.