The Metlakatla Merchants lost a close game to Angoon ANB in the Juneau Lions Club Gold Metal Tournament Mighty B bracket opener Saturday, though the score of 85-73 doesn't tell the whole story.
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Metlakatla had only six players for this game. Then their two leading scorers fouled out, leaving the Merchants with just four players for the remaining 4:39.
Angoon got off to a quick start and led all of the first half. Former Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball player Curtis Lane put up 22 of his 30 points in the first half.
Angoon led by as much as 12 points midway through the first half before Metlakatla answered toward the end of the half.
The Merchants closed the half on a 20-10 run to cut Angoon's lead to 42-40.
Metlakatla opened strongly in the second half, taking its first lead of the game on its second possession and making the score 45-44. Metlakatla kept the lead for several minutes until a technical foul was called on the Merchants' Marty Martinez Jr.
Lane took the free throws, making both as Angoon regained the lead 55-54.
Although Metlakatla players kept the game within reach for the rest of the half, they never took the lead again.
With the score at 70-64 in favor of Angoon, Willie Hayward of Metlakatla fouled out with 17 points, leaving Metlakatla with five players and no subs. Metlakatla rallied during the next three possessions to cut Angoon's lead to two, with the score of 70-68 in favor of Angoon.
Lane then hit a 3-pointer, after which Metlakatla's leading scorer Mike Henderson fouled out with 28 points. Playing against just four athletes, Angoon easily spread the ball around with the 5 on 4 advantage to seal the 12-point victory.
Although Angoon led for most of the game, there may have been a closer outcome if Metlakatla's leading scorers had not fouled out.
"It would've been a lot different," Lane said.
Although Lane put up 22 points in the first half, he cooled after halftime.
The victory moved Angoon closer to a possible Mighty B title.
"I don't want to look too far," Lane said. "As long as we don't get caught into things, we should have a good chance."
Angoon will face Haines at 4 p.m. today, while Metlakatla will take on Yakutat at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the loser's bracket.