It wasn't easy, but the Kake Oldtimers moved into Saturday's C Bracket championship game with a 95-88 win over the Klukwan Chilkats on Thursday night at the Juneau-Douglas High School gymnasium.
Klukwan took advantage of its size from the tip, attacking the inside early and often with the one-two punch of Jeff Sharnboich and Frank Tompkins. Kake's Kip Howard was overmatched in the paint and was called for two early fouls and picked up a third with nine minutes to go in the first period, forcing Mike Smith who came off the bench to handle post duties alone.
"That was our game plan - me and Frank," Sharnboich said after the game. "We had really good passing from Ethan (Billings) and Guy (Tompkins). We tried to take advantage."
Sharnboich and Tompkins combined for 29 first-half points, and the Chilkats, who were ahead by as many as nine, led 50-47 at the half.
Kake was finding itself in unfamiliar territory in the second half as Klukwan quietly built an 11 point lead behind 10 points from Sharnboich in the first 5 minutes of the second period.
But Kake claimed the lead 73-72 with 8:00 to go on a 3-pointer by Rich Austin, and Kake never looked back.
A crucial charge call on Tompkins with 4:12 to go left Klukwan with five players, and Kake responded with an 11-4 scoring run capped off with a Rudy Bean layup to go up 84-76.
The Chilkats made it interesting at the end with a Sharnboich 3-pointer and a pair of free throws by Guy Tompkins to pull within three points with 44 seconds remaining before Dave Buss fouled, out leaving Klukwan with four players on the court to finish the game.
"It felt good to be in a war like that," Kake's Jay Peterson said. "We had a couple of days off and everyone was feeling antsy. Sharnboich is a touch player and really made us work for this."
Kake was led in scoring by Bean with 38 points and Peterson with 18, while Wayne Friday added 11 points.
Sharnboich finished with 38 points, Tompkins scored 18 and Ethan Billings contributed 15 for the Chilkats. They play Huna tonight at 7:30 p.m. for another chance to make it to the finals.
The defending C Bracket champion Oldtimers will take a day off before facing the Klukwan-Huna winner in the title game on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Jeff Kasper is a freelance writer and former Empire sportswriter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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