Two years ago, Darren Edenshaw helped the Hydaburg High School Warriors claim the boys Class 2A state basketball title.
Now he's graduated into the Gold Medal basketball tournament's B Bracket, and Thursday he led Hydaburg to a spot in Saturday's championship game with a 102-89 victory over Huna ANB in the winners' bracket semifinal game at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym.
Edenshaw, who's playing college basketball for Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash., scored 34 points to lead Hydaburg. But he wasn't the only Edenshaw to lead Hydaburg. Cousin Devin had 24 points and cousin Sid added 12 despite missing part of the second half when his left pinky finger was knocked out of joint. Matt Carle chipped in 18 points to help Hydaburg, which missed several recent Gold Medal tournaments, reach its first B Bracket title game in at least a decade.
Hydaburg will try to win the title at 8 p.m. on Saturday when it plays the winner of tonight's 9 p.m. losers' bracket final between the Haines Merchants and Huna ANB.
"It feels great," Darren Edenshaw said. "This means a lot (to the community). I'm sure everyone's pretty excited about it."
"We'd like to think this is our first year here," said Carle, who was one of the handful of Hydaburg players who helped the village return to the tournament with a fourth-place finish last year. "We'd won something like nine out of the last 10 years in the All-Native tournament (in Prince Rupert, British Columbia) and we have the talent. People were asking us to get into the Gold Medal again."
Huna jumped out to an early 15-6 lead in the first half, but Darren Edenshaw and Carle helped bring Hydaburg back to a 20-20 tie. The score was tied 26-26 when James Wilson keyed a 9-0 Huna run that gave the 2003 champions a 35-26 lead. Huna held the advantage the rest of the half, taking a 43-39 lead into the break.
In the second half, Nate Strong took over as he scored 11 of the first 13 Huna second-half points to help Huna extend the margin to 14 points, 56-42.
But Hydaburg crept back into the game, taking a 63-59 lead on a 3-pointer and 12-footer by Darren Edenshaw, followed by a jumper by Carle with 11:03 left to make it 65-59. After a bucket by Strong, Devin Edenshaw scored the next six points to give Hydaburg a 10-point lead at 71-61. Hydaburg extended the lead to 86-66 with 7:34 left, even though Sid Edenshaw was out with an injured hand for most of rally.
During the rally, Devin Edenshaw would drive toward the hoop. When the Huna defenders collapsed on him, he would kick the ball out to Darren.
"I think I wasn't being aggressive," Devin Edenshaw said about when Huna took its big lead early in the second half. "(When I am aggressive), that helps get him open. When he gets hot, he can take over a game."
"I was running through the picks and I felt like I couldn't miss," Darren Edenshaw said of the rally.
Hydaburg was able to show its depth when Sid Edenshaw was hurt, as Joe Young replaced him and scored eight points in the second half. Sid Edenshaw, who is a Gold Medal Hall-of-Famer and old enough to play in the C Bracket, is Hydaburg's biggest presence underneath the basket.
"We have a lot of offensive weapons," Carle said, before Sid Edenshaw mentioned that Darren Edenshaw was the MVP in last month's All-Native Tournament. "We have a lot of people, and our young guys really stepped up. We didn't have our safety valve in the middle, and Sid's a pretty big safety valve."
"I popped it out of the socket and it's still pretty sore," Sid Edenshaw said as he rubbed his left pinky that was swollen about twice normal size. "I'll ice it and see how it does tomorrow. Joe Young is a fine player, and all our young players believe in each other."
Huna was led by Strong, a former NAIA all-American, who was held to 31 points (he's had some games in past Gold Medals where he scored in the 50s). Hydaburg's Travis Young drew the chore of guarding Strong and he kept him in check for most of the game.
"I didn't change anything, he's just a relentless player," Young said of Strong. "I was just trying to slow him down. I knew he'd get his points."
Travis Dybdahl added 18 points for Huna, while Wilson scored 10 before fouling out. Huna was in early foul trouble, as Wilson picked up his fourth foul late in first half and David Lindoff picked up his fourth early in the second half, with Dybdahl getting his fourth midway through the second half. Lindoff fouled out with 7:34 left, and Wilson and Lucas Johnson fouled out later in the game.
"Me and David were in foul trouble, and Travis, and we can't be aggressive on defense because we're worried about fouling out," Wilson said. "He (Darren Edenshaw) shot a lot better in the second half, once they got the lead."