In a rematch of last year's Premiere Women's Bracket title game and what looks to be a preview of this year's final, Lynden Transport of Juneau upset four-time defending champion Klawock-Prince of Wales 65-58 in the second round of Gold Medal action Tuesday night at Juneau-Douglas High School.
"Both teams played such good defense that neither could get going offensively," Lynden coach Jer Hamey said. "It was one of those games where it was gonna come down to the end and ... we were able to come out on top."
In last year's Gold Medal women's championship game, Klawock beat Lynden 68-63 to maintain its hold on the title - even after losing to Lynden earlier in that year's tourney. On Tuesday, Lynden took another step toward ending Klawock's dynasty.
Both teams battled for offensive supremacy in the first half, trading leads nearly every possession for the first 10 minutes of play. Led by Jean Jackson and Ellen Hannon, Klawock was able to control the tempo for the most part, edging out Lynden by several points for most of the first half.
"We were a little nervous coming out in the first half and rushing some things and our offense was out of sync," Lynden's Kacy Lockhart said. "We know we got a lot of offensive talent; we just needed to slow it down and be patient with the ball on offense."
Lynden slowed it down and was able to creep toward the lead in the final minutes before halftime. With 1:27 left in the first half, Lockhart hit a long jump shot just in front of the 3-point line, cutting Klawock's lead to 28-25.
After Jackson added a point on a free throw, Lynden's Heather Clark hit two free throws with 50 seconds left to make it 29-27. Lynden was able to regain control of the ball, which enabled Clark to hit a shot off an assist from Christal Tompkins with 10.6 seconds left to tie it up, 29-29, going into halftime.
"They're a good team, so we had to come out a little tougher, but we still came out a little slow," Clark said. "We tried to focus more on defense than offense, because that's what's gonna win it."
Jackson came out strong in the second half for Klawock, hitting an outside shot at 19:20 to give P.O.W. the lead, 31-29.
Lynden's defense battled to keep the score close, and limited Jackson and Klawock's points. With 12:53 to go, Clark hit a long jump shot to tie the game at 41, at which point Lynden's offense picked up its game and controlled the tempo for the rest of the contest.
Kara Lindley had two of her four 3-pointers in the second half, including one with 9:53 remaining that extended Lynden's lead to 49-43.
Lynden kept its cool in the final minutes of the game, as Klawock attacked Lynden's offense and repeatedly brought Lynden to the free-throw line. In the final 3 1/2 minutes Lynden went to the line five times, making all 10 shots to seal the victory.
"I thought we both played pretty good games," Jackson said. "They just were hittin' all their 3s and we just have a hard time hittin' from the outside."
"We're a little bit younger and more athletic too, so I think that helped," Hamey said. "At the end of the game we were a little more fresh then they were."
Lindley led Lynden with 14 points, Clark scored 12, Rena Balzer scored 11, Lockhart added 10 and Tami Watts scored eight.
Jackson led Klawock with 18 points, Hannon added 14, Tina Almenzar scored 13 and Louise Walcott had seven.
Lynden is looking forward to its next match, against Sitka, which was slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. today at JDHS. But the Lynden players said they don't think they've seen the last of Klawock.
"I think we'll see them in the championship," Clark said.
"I'd be surprised if we didn't see them on Saturday," Lockhart said.
Sitka 64, Yakutat ANS 51
Stephanie Green led all scorers with 20 points as Sitka beat Yakutat in Tuesday's other second-round game in the women's bracket.
Breanne Erickson scored 14 points, including going 6-for-8 from the free-throw line, while Cheri Herman and Kelsey Erickson each added 10 points for Sitka.
Jasmine James led Yakutat with 13 points, including 11 in the second half. Violet Sensmeier scored 12 points, Rochelle Kekanoff had 11 and Stephanie Johnson added nine, all of which were 3-point shots.
Eric Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.