The Juneau Marlintini's Arctic Lights tapped into their Seawolf connection to win a second straight title in the Gold Medal basketball tournament's A Bracket.
Led by former University of Alaska Anchorage teammates Jon Madison and Shaun O'Shea, the Arctic Lights held off a late rally to beat the Juneau Lakers in Saturday's championship game at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym.
Madison, who was UAA's leading scorer his senior year, scored 26 points to lead the Arctic Lights, while O'Shea, a burly 6-foot-8 center, scored 25 points and had at least a dozen rebounds. The Arctic Lights trailed by two, 35-32, with five minutes left in the first half, but Madison scored nine of the Arctic Lights' last 13 points of the half as they took a 48-41 lead into the break.
"I've been struggling all tournament," said Madison, who grew up in Port Angeles, Wash., but now lives in Juneau. "I was just trying to do the other things, rebound and pass the ball."
"We played all four years together at UAA, since 1997," said O'Shea, an Anchorage teacher who graduated from high school in Virginia but lived in Juneau during his years at UAA. "He stayed with me when he was a recruit. We just feed off each other. The more you play with someone the better you know what they're going to do."
The Lakers used 3-pointers to stay close early, as former Juneau-Douglas High School teammates Alex Heumann and Adam Nelson combined to hit 11 treys in the game. But the Lakers had no match for the size of O'Shea and former UA Fairbanks player Joe Kemp inside.
O'Shea dominated the boards, while Kemp did a lot of the grunt work setting picks and sealing off plyers underneath. Kemp scored 14 points for the Arctic Lights, while tournament MVP Josh Lockhart, a former player for Biola University, scored 17 points while running the point.
"Josh Lockhart had a great tournament, but this year we didn't have that one outstanding player," Madison said. "Joe Kemp did a lot of the intangibles."
"Kemp played phenomenal. He was making tip-ins and blocking out," O'Shea said. "Even the bench guys got into it and gave us some good minutes."
Lockhart didn't lead the Arctic Lights in scoring, but he was a steadying influence on offense. Rob Casperson, who was the other member of the Arctic Lights to make the all-tourney team, anchored the defense.
"We've got a lot of guys who have been playing together for 10-15 years," said Lockhart, one of several JDHS grads playing for the Arctic Lights. "It helped us to go inside, because Shaun and Joe are pretty strong."
"I love playing with these guys," Kemp said. "Everybody plays together well."
The Arctic Lights took a 66-48 lead with 13:17 left, but Heumann and Nelson hit a couple of 3-pointers and Keaton Gaines added a couple of buckets to close the margin to 70-61. The Arctic Lights answered with a 10-0 run to go up 80-61 with 8:20 left.
The Lakers made one more rally, closing to within 86-81 with 1:06 to play. But O'Shea fed Madison for a bucket underneath, Lockhart and Madison each hit a pair of free throws and O'Shea closed out the game with a dunk at the buzzer.
"It was a tough loss," said Heumann, who scored 23 points and hit five 3-pointers to lead the Lakers. "They play really well as a team, and a lot of them have been playing together for a lot of years. They were a lot bigger than us and they knew how to control the tempo. It was a fun tournament and I was really excited to get to play."
Nelson, who played with Heumann last year at JDHS, scored 20 points and hit six 3-pointers for the Lakers. Rob Ridgeway added 12 points, while Vonnie Williams had nine and Billy Ehlers scored eight.
"Is this the last A Bracket game ever?" Madison asked, referring to speculation that developed two years ago that the A Bracket might be dropped from the tournament. "With all the rumors the last couple of years, it's good to go out as possibly the last A Bracket champions."
Juneau Marlintini's Arctic Lights 83, Sitka ANS 59
Josh Lockhart scored 22 points as the Juneau Marlintini's Arctic Lights beat Sitka ANS in a Friday's winners' bracket semifinal game, earning a spot in Saturday's A Bracket championship game with the victory.
Jon Madison added 16 points for the defending champion Arctic Lights, while Joe Kemp scored 12 points.
Steve Walker scored 13 points to lead Sitka ANS, which dropped into the losers' bracket final later on Friday. Syd Eubanks and Rich Krupa scored 12 points apiece.
Juneau Lakers 78, Sitka ANS 71
Alex Heumann scored 26 points with five 3-pointers as the Juneau Lakers knocked off Sitka ANS in Friday's losers' bracket final in the A Bracket. The victory gave the Lakers a berth in Saturday's championship game, while Sitka ANS was eliminated.
Besides the 26 points from Heumann, the Lakers also picked up 19 points from Adam Nelson, 12 from Rob Ridgeway and 10 from Vonnie Williams.
Rich Krupa scored 21 points to lead Sitka ANS, which was playing its second game in three hours.
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