Greg Valle's jumper with 11 seconds remaining gave Yakutat ANS a thrilling 114-113 victory over the Hoonah Old-Timers in Legendary C Bracket action Sunday in the opening day of the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.
In other Legendary C Bracket opening day games, Klawock Old Timers defeated the Klukwan Chilkats 96-72, Angoon ANS edged Kake ANB 71-67 and Sitka Old Timers got the best of Petersburg 78-62.
The Hoonah Old-Timers had several opportunities to win the game in the last 10 seconds, but nothing would fall for the defending Legendary C Bracket champions.
After Valle's shot, Louie White quickly drove the ball down the court, penetrated, and went up for a shot that bounced off the rim. A mad scramble for the loose ball ensued and, with precious seconds ticking off the clock, another wild shot was thrown towards the hoop, missing badly.
Hoonah had one last shot but Stuart Mills couldn't get a good look at the basket and the buzzer sounded before he could release his last desperate shot.
"The game could have gone either way," White said. "I'm real proud of my guys. Even with the 'Four Horseman' out, they gave it everything they had."
The 'Four Horseman' refer to Hoonah's Bill Hutton, Jim Dybdahl, Bruce Noonan and Howard Starbard, who retired after last year's Gold Medal Tournament.
Coming into Sunday, the Legendary C Bracket looked to be one of the most wide open of the tournament and Yakutat's victory could easily be construed as a changing of the guards in the bracket.
"I don't want to come off as being cocky but I think we're looking pretty good," Yakutat's Jon Jensen said. "We're a balanced team and we have a lot of bench."
Yakutat showed its team balance by having five players score in double figures led by Rod Schug with 26 points. Big Mike Jensen's long arms hauled in more than his share of rebounds as well as scoring 23, while James Bremner tallied 19 points. Matt Wheeler put in 16 and Kevin Sather contributed 10 to round out Yakutat's high scorers.
"One-hundred-fourteen to 113 is a pretty high score for us old guys," James Bremmer said. "We've been practicing more and it really helped. It's a lot of the same older guys and it's hard to tell how we'll do the rest of the way. There have been so many years when we win one, then we lose one, then we win one. I'm just glad to be here and glad to play."
The game was very physical as both teams held nothing back the entire game. Yakutat got off to a quick start and found themselves up 50-31 with four minutes to go in the first half. But Hoonah showed they were not going down without a fight, and closed the lead to 63-52 at the half.
After the break, Hoonah kept up the charge and when Greg Garcia hit a 3-pointer with 11:13 to go, the Old-Timers took their first lead since the early minutes at 84-83. However, Yakutat again pulled away to 104-94 when Shrug made a layup with 3:48 to go. That's when Hoonah's Gary Brown, Sr. started hitting 3-pointers -- three in all in the game's last three minutes and Hoonah once again closed the gap.
The Old-Timers tied the game one final time with 29 seconds to go when White made a tough, contested layup, and to the delight of the vocal Hoonah fans, he was fouled. White made the free throw to put Hoonah up 113-112 but Valle sealed the victory for Yakutat on the next possession.
White led all scorers with 29 for Hoonah and was all over the court throughout the contest while Stuart Mills added 25 points. Last year's Legendary C Bracket most valuable player, Garcia, scored 26 points but fouled out of the game with 4:36 left in the game and was unable to help his teammates in the crucial final seconds.
Brown, Sr. and Bill Wolfe, Jr. each scored 12 points each for the Old-Timers with four 3-pointers apiece.
Winners' bracket games will take place on Tuesday when Yakutat will face the Sitka Old-Timers at 8:30 p.m. and Klawock Old-Timers will test Angoon ANS at 5:30 p.m.
In the losers' bracket games, Hoonah will play Petersburg today at 2:30 p.m. and the Klukwan Chilkats plays Kake ANB at 11:30 a.m.
Klawock 96, Klukwan 72
Sid Edenshaw scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Klawock Old-Timers to a victory over the Klukwan Chilkats.
Klawock led by just 44-39 at the break but outscored Klukwan 52-33 in the second half.
Klawock's Mark Heard added 21 points, while Norm Skan and Sam Peters pitched in 12 points each.
Steve Fosman led Klukwan with 16 and Jeff Kasler scored 14, while Dale Johnson and Greg Stigen added 13 apiece.
Angoon 71, Kake 67
Angoon's Ken Johnson racked up 31 points en route to a victory over Kake ANS to advance into the quarterfinals against Klawock.
Kake held a slim 40-37 lead at halftime but Angoon surged ahead in the second half to claim the victory.
Glenn Padgett scored 25 to lead Kake in scoring, while teammates Kip Howard and Fred Blandov added 18 and 15 points, respectively.
Angoon's Andy Lee scored 13 and Greg Bowen added 10 points for the only other players in double digits.
Sitka 78, Petersburg 62
The Sitka Old-Timers rushed out to a 48-34 lead in first half and ran away with a victory over Petersburg.
Everyone on the Sitka roster managed to score with Gordon Bruin leading the way with 22 points while Chester Murphy added 14 points.
Petersburg was lead by Klas Stolpe with 19 and Jim Scholtz chipped in 15. Curt Birchill rounded out Petersburg high-scorers with 10 points.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at email@example.com.