The Alaska Native Veterans of Juneau fought a valiant battle Tuesday evening in the 59th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament's C Bracket, but couldn't fend off the offensive attack of the Juneau ANB Masters.
The Masters went on to win 81-66 in the losers' bracket game, and will face Kake at 6 p.m. tonight at the Juneau-Douglas High School gym. The Veterans were eliminated by the loss.
"The score didn't reflect the scare that they gave us, because a number of times they got within six and we got scared and that kind of helped us," said the Masters' Ken Kreitzer.
In Tuesday's other C Bracket game, the Klukwan Chilkats beat Angoon 70-67. Klukwan will face the Klukwan Southeast Warriors at 7:30 p.m. today, while Angoon was eliminated by the loss.
The Masters jumped out to an early lead on Tuesday, beginning with a 17-0 run that left the Veterans fighting to catch up for the remainder of the game.
"You take a team out of its rhythm and before you know it they're playing catch-up ball and then they're always looking at the scoreboard and they're not playing their game," said Harry Tullis, who scored 10 points for the Masters.
"We started off in the wrong defense," said Robert Beierly of the Veterans. "One person came out and called the wrong defense and we kind of stuck to a zone right off the bat and it really cost us badly."
Jewel Walker scored the Veterans' first points at 11:39 with a 3-point shot from the baseline, giving the team a much-needed offensive spark. The Veterans then regrouped and began to chip away at the Masters' lead.
"It took us about 10 minutes to get momentum going in the game and we started to make a game of it there towards the end of the first half, and then we just couldn't get our big guys going," Beierly said.
Beierly hit a 3-point shot with 4:05 remaining in the half, which was immediately followed by a John Castillo steal resulting in a lay-up, shrinking the Masters' lead to 27-23.
Led by the strong play of Kreitzer and Art Chappell in the paint, the Masters kept their lead and went into halftime with a 37-30 lead.
"I think we were just taking advantage of our opportunities on the offensive end of the court, whether they were fast-breaks or half court, but on the defensive end I think we were playing good halfcourt defense," Tullis said. "We were keeping them outside and eventually they warmed up and they started hitting their shots. But for the most part I think we got off to a good start because we were able to keep them away from the basket."
Both teams came out fired up in the second half, with the Masters getting back to the basics by moving the ball around, while the Veterans came out with a very aggressive defense.
"This team has a couple of really good defensive players ... so they're going to get a few steals every game," Tullis said. "But our game plan was to pass out of it. If they double-teamed the ball-handler, just pass out of it and move the ball upcourt. We were able to break their press."
Frank Joseph, who led all scorers with 19 points, kept the offensive rhythm going for the Veterans and helped the team remain in the game.
"When they're close, it's whether or not you have poise, and they double-teamed us real nice and forced a couple of turn-overs, but we kept our heads," Kreitzer said.
The Masters kept up the pressure, and as time was ticking away they started taking more outside shots.
"We played pretty good the first half and then we kept the intensity up the second half. That's what you've got to do, because if you slack they're going to come back and win," Chappell said. "Our three-point guys finally came out the second half and they made up for the first half."
As time was winding down the Veterans began to play very physical defense, leading to a number of fouls, repeatedly sending the Masters to the free-throw line.
"Like I said, the end score didn't reflect the scare that they gave us because they were (close) with just two minutes to go and we just hit a couple of clutch free throws."
"It was refreshing to have a lead the whole game ... just be able to play at a more relaxed pace," Tullis said. "I felt pressure the whole game, but it wasn't anything we couldn't handle."
As the Veterans fought for points in the closing minutes, the Masters were able to inflate the final score by getting behind the defense for some easy lay-ins.
"There at the end, I think they just ran out of steam and we had a couple of easy cherry-pickings," Kreitzer said.
"Both teams are real good sportsmen and it was a fun game to play," he added.
Chappell scored 17 points for the Masters, Kreitzer scored 14 points, Don Nowlin scored 13 points, Tullis scored 10 points, and Tom Beierly added 9 points.
Castillo scored 11 points for the Veterans, Frank Coronell and Jewel Walker each scored 10 points, and Robert Beierly added six points.
Klukwan Chilkats 70, Angoon 67
Despite having just one player on the bench, the Klukwan Chilkats eliminated Angoon from the C Bracket on Tuesday.
Joe Parnell scored 21 points to lead the Chilkats, who only suited six players for the game. Duane Wilson added 15 points for Klukwan, while Terry Friske scored 14 and Don Nash had 11. The Klukwan Chilkats will play the Klukwan Warriors at 7:30 p.m. tonight in another losers' bracket game.
Andy Lee scored 20 points to lead Angoon, while Ken Johnson added 11 and DeAndre King chipped in 10.