Beau Hayward scored six of his team's seven points in overtime as the Metlakatla Chiefs became just the second Alaska team since 1995 to win the 23rd Annual Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic.
Led by Hayward and tournament MVP Chris Bryant, the Chiefs claimed their first Clarke Cochrane crown with a 53-50 overtime victory over the Eltham Wildcats of Victoria, Australia, on Tuesday at Ketchikan High School's Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. The only other Alaska team to win since 1995 was Ketchikan in 2001.
Metlakatla (5-0 overall, 2-0 Region V-Class 3A) trailed by five points with 1 1/2 minutes left in the game, but Bryant's 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in regulation tied the score and forced overtime. In the extra period, Hayward scored all six of his points from the free-throw line to finish with a game-high 25. Bryant added 15 points, including a free throw in overtime.
It was Metlakatla's third straight victory over a team from a school of more than 1,200 students. Metlakatla is the state's smallest Class 3A school with 97 students - small enough to qualify for Class 2A, but the Chiefs are staying up a level this year.
"It never occurred to us that we couldn't win this game," Hayward told the Ketchikan Daily News. "We knew that every play we made - starters or the guys on the bench - would have an impact. And we did our jobs."
"There was something about it, we just knew," Bryant added. "We knew we had to be calm and that if we did, we could win. Our whole team showed heart, and that's what gave us the win."
Michael Steven and Daniel Bass scored 16 points each for Eltham, which is traveling through Alaska, Canada, Washington and Oregon during what is Australia's summer vacation. Eltham has about 1,400 students, coach Scott Ryan said, but the team rarely plays in front of more than 200 people. For the championship game, the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium crowd was standing-room only and the Alaska Marine Highway had to add an extra ferry for Metlakatla fans.
"Before this game, our kids had never played in front of more than a couple hundred people," Ryan said. "It was a huge bonus for us, and I hope we learn something from this."
The tournament honors a former Ketchikan High School teacher and coach who died from a 1983 heart attack in the gym that now bears his name. The tournament was started in 1977, but took Cochrane's name after his death in 1983. Over the years, the tournament has hosted teams from Oregon, Arizona, Washington, California, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and Australia.
In the third-fifth place game on Tuesday, the Bend (Ore.) Lava Bears - the 2000 champions - knocked off the host Ketchikan Kings 69-61 as Kyle Jurgenson scored 25 points. Tyler Richardson led Ketchikan (3-4 overall, 0-0 Region V-Class 4A) with 23 points.
In the fourth-sixth place game, the Vintage Crushers of Napa, Calif., knocked off the Class 3A state champion Craig Panthers 61-52 as Kellan Sanderlin scored 23 points. Alexei Gamble scored 16 points to lead Craig (2-3 overall, 0-0 Region V-Class 3A).
George Peratrovich scored 21 points as the Class 2A state champion Hydaburg Warriors (1-2 overall, 0-0 Region V-Class 2A) knocked off the Class 3A Wrangell Wolves 55-46 in the seventh-eighth place game. Nic Howell scored 15 points and Gregg Wilson added 13 for Wrangell (0-5 overall, 0-2 Region V-Class 3A).
In Monday's games, Eltham knocked off Ketchikan 69-40; Metlakatla beat Bend 69-54; Craig beat Hydaburg 64-42; and Vintage edged Wrangell 65-60.
In Saturday's opening-round games, Ketchikan knocked off Craig 78-63; Metlakatla topped Vintage 85-67; Bend beat Wrangell 79-53; and Eltham doubled-up Hydaburg 80-40.