Yakutat showed the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament crowd on Tuesday what experience and cohesion on the court can do in a Master's Bracket win at the Juneau-Douglas High School gym.
Yakutat downed the Sitka Moose 72-64 to move on in the winner's bracket.
"I heard it's tough and competitive, and it is," said Yakutat's Brian Harber, playing in his first Gold Medal. "You have to come out like anything else - hustle, play defense and rebound."
The core of Yakutat's team has been together since the 1980s, according to player John Jensen.
The team showed off that experience throughout the game, particularly on a nifty fast-break midway though the second half.
During an 11-0 run, guard John Nichols fired an outlet pass to Jensen on the break. Jensen, rather than going up for a shot, caught forward Tom Faverty on the other side of the court.
Jensen fired a pass off the backboard to a streaking Faverty, who leapt and made the shot in one motion.
In the NBA, a play like that could result in a monstrous jam. In the Gold Medal Master's Bracket, a nice layup works just as well.
"We do that every now and then," Jensen said.
"It may not have been an ally-oop, but it was definitely an ally," Yakutat teammate Greg Indreland quipped.
Yakutat's newest teammate, Harber, made an immediate impact and changed the tenor of the game with his size and strength.
Harber, a 6-foot-6 forward, blocked a shot early and did a good job patrolling the key. Harber helped push Sitka to the outside instead of testing the lane.
Sitka ended making more 3-pointers (11) than 2-point shots (10) in the game.
"It went that way because they have a lot of big guys inside and it was hard to get inside," Sitka's Ned Chapman said. "There are three or four of us that shoot 3-pointers. I don't normally shoot 3s, only when we have to. I like to pass more than anything, but if we're in trouble I just start shooting the 3."
Sitka took an early 6-4 lead when Scott Calhoon and Norm Staton knocked down 3s early. Yakutat grabbed the lead by going inside however, as Harber and Jensen scored inside.
Yakutat led 32-26 at halftime and extend the lead to as many as 16 in the second half.
Jensen had 18 points and 14 rebounds for Yakutat while Jensen scored 19 points. Nichols and Faverty had 13 points each, Indreland had five points and Matt Wheeler added four points.
"It's a good tournament," Jensen said. "I really do enjoy coming to Gold Medal."
Sitka made a run late in the game as it scored seven points in four seconds.
Down 63-48 with 2:09 left, Chapman converted a rare four-point play when he made a 3-pointer while being fouled and hit the ensuing free throw.
Sitka then stole the inbound pass where Staton hit a layup, got fouled, and hit the free throw to cut the score to 63-55. The team would get no closer, however.
Staton led Sitka with 20 points while Chapman had 16 points. Steve Edenshaw scored 10 points while George Erickson, Bill Trivitt and Calhoon had six points each.
The loss sends Sitka to the loser's bracket where it will play Legion 2008 in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. today.
Yakutat will take on Klukwan at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Contact sports editor Tim Nichols at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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