The dynasty continues.
In a rematch of last year's championship game, Huna Totem Tribe beat Juneau Green Team 79-74, becoming the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament's C Bracket champions for the second consecutive year.
"It's great. We've won five out of the last seven ... and it never gets routine," said Louie White, who was selected for the all-tournament team. "It's something special."
The team, as well as its fans from the village of Hoonah, made their presence felt all week, with chants of "Hoo-nah, Hoo-nah" reverberating through the Juneau-Douglas High School gym throughout the tournament.
"Early on you play for yourself and you want the accolades and stuff, but later on as you approach the twilight of your career, that's what we play for up there - the crowd," White said.
Huna put the first points on the board with a 3-pointer by Garvin Martin on the team's first shot attempt, setting the offensive tempo for the Totem Tribe. The team continued to push the ball and took a number of shots from beyond the arc, including a 3-pointer by Showalter Martin to increase Huna's lead to 18-10, forcing Juneau to call a time out at 12:33.
Led by the hot hand of all-tournament player Mike Bavard, Juneau regrouped after the time out and came charging back with the help of its big men in the paint. In the closing minutes of the half, Bavard, who scored 23 points for Juneau, began to really heat up, making back-to-back 3-pointers to give Juneau a 33-31 lead with 1:02 left in the half. After Showalter Martin tied the score with an offensive rebound-turned-field-goal, Phil Paramore had a very similar play to give Juneau a 35-33 lead going into halftime.
"We were dragging right off the bat and it seemed like everyone was running low and then we kind of picked it up," said Showalter Martin, who led all scorers with 26 points. "It was a tough game. Those guys are a lot better than they were last year, for sure. They had better players, a better bench."
"These guys, they're old, but I'll tell you, they're smart," White said of his Juneau opponents. "I don't know what happened to us. We played their tempo. We had to play smart ball, like they did."
"They did everything right," Bavard said. "Everything they needed to do they did right."
With the help of C Bracket Most Valuable Player Greg Garcia, Huna came out in the second half with solid play on both ends of the court, recapturing the lead and extending it by as many as 11 points.
Juneau called a timeout trailing 51-40 with 14:14 left in the game, regrouped and then began chipping away at Huna's lead. With the offensive help of Ethan Billings and Steve Brandner, Juneau fought back and kept the score close for the remainder of the game.
With 53 seconds left in the game, Bavard hit a baseline 3-pointer to cut Huna's lead to 71-70. The rest of the game was decided from the free-throw line, as each team proceeded to foul the other on virtually every remaining possession. With Huna leading 77-74, Bavard brought the ball up court and lost the ball out of bounds under intense defensive pressure from the Totem Tribe with just 7.3 seconds left in the game. Garcia was fouled and made two final free throws to seal a Huna victory.
"We had a shot at it but we just couldn't get it done at the end," Bavard said. "They're a good group of guys, they all work well together, they've played a long time, they do all the right things, and they made all of their free throws at the end. We just couldn't get it done. And it wasn't for a lack of effort."
"I think the key was to control the ball," White said. "You control the boards, you make your free-throws. It was a chess match the whole game, but it was fun though."
"It's great, this makes 10 (championships) for me now and that's a pretty good record in itself," said Gold Medal Hall-of-Famer Stu Mills. "There's a lot of ballplayers that can play ball and I don't mind taking a back seat if the team is winning. As long as Hoonah wins, it's all that matters for me."
Mills said the Hoonah fans and their enthusiasm helped the team win its second consecutive championship.
"It's great one of us (Hoonah teams) came through for us and I'm sure you can tell by the fans that everybody is happy," Mills said. "They finally got into it in the second half, so that was a good thing for us."
Garcia scored 23 points for Huna, Garvin Martin had 13 points, and White added 10 points for the Totem Tribe.
Brandner scored 17 points for Juneau, Billings had 11 points, and Kevin Casperson added 8 points for the Green Team.
FRIDAY'S GAME Juneau Hangar Green Team 75, Kake LAB 74
Kevin Casperson made two of three free throws with 0.8 seconds left to lead the Juneau Hangar Green Team over Kake LAB in Friday's losers' bracket final in the C Bracket.
The Green Team earned a spot in Saturday's title game against the Huna Totem Tribe with the victory, while Kake LAB was eliminated by the loss.
Casperson tied the score at 73-73 with a jumper with 18 seconds left. But Kake's Kip Howard was fouled grabbing an offensive rebound with 2.8 seconds and made one of his two shots to put Kake up 74-73. After a Green Team timeout, Casperson was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. He missed his first free throw, but made the next two to give the Green Team the victory.
Steve Brandner scored 24 points to lead the Green Team. Howard scored 23 points to lead Kake LAB, while Wayne Friday added 16 points.