Haines was looking forward to getting another shot at Angoon in a rematch of last year’s championship game.
The problem was Angoon was more ready than ever on Saturday night in the finale of the 65th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament.
Ozelle Jamestown scored on a putback with five minutes remaining in the first half to put Angoon out in front 34-33, and the defending champs never relinquished the lead the rest of the way in a 101-84 win over the Merchants. Following a 32-year drought, Angoon has now won back-to-back B Bracket championships for the first time ever.
Angoon didn’t put this one away until the final minutes, but Haines was unable to push itself back into the game as it had in the two prior meetings. Jamestown said this team played better defense than last year’s, and there was an overall familiarity with each other they felt after another year together.
“They didn’t have as many outside shooters, and we played a little better defense this time,” Jamestown said.
But perhaps the biggest key to this year’s title team was an old face for Angoon: Clayton Edwin. Back on the court for Angoon after missing out on last year’s championship, Edwin was the most impressive player in the tournament, and Saturday night’s performance was no different.
The swingman filled it up with 32 points and ended the night carrying the tournament MVP trophy. He said the best thing about the whole tournament was being back between the lines with his old teammates.
“It felt great being back with the guys I didn’t play with for long before,” he said. “I played one year at Angoon, and, unfortunately, that was it.”
Ask anybody on the roster this year, and they’ll tell you what Edwin meant to the team.
“I played a couple years with Clayton in high school, so we jelled well together,” Jamestown said. “He meant a lot. Usually, it’d be just Jordan (Jamestown) and me running the fast break with somebody else, but Clayton helped the team run more.
“He was always the first one down the court on defense and offense, so he definitely opened the floor for us and gave us another person to create his own shots,” he continued. “That’s a big plus.”
Edwin’s 32 points led all scorers in the game while Jordan Jamestown scored 26 on the night.
Haines stormed out to a nine-point lead in the first five-plus minutes of the game behind the scoring of Tyler Healy, who had 29 points in the contest. Healy opened the game with two quick buckets and Andrew Friske added a layup to give Haines the first six points of the game. Back-to-back floaters from Kyle Rush gave Haines its largest lead at 14-5.
Haines was able to keep the pace where it wanted over the first 10 minutes of the opening half, but Angoon started capitalizing on Haines mistakes and missed shots by getting out in the open floor and playing their style of basketball.
The up-and-down pace favored run-and-gun Angoon, and the team’s speed and outside touch were just too much. Whenever Haines would
threaten, Angoon would respond by aggressively attacking the paint with Jordan Jamestown and Edwin. With the defense collapsing on the two scorers, Angoon’s outside shooters made Haines pay.
The teams were battling it out in a tight contest at the break with Angoon only up 45-42. Haines matched the champs bucket for bucket during the opening few minutes of the second half. But little by little, Angoon began to pull away behind the strength of 24 second-half points by Edwin. Haines managed to stick around within striking distance, hoping to launch one of its 3-point assaults in yet another comeback bid. But Angoon would have none of it this time.
After allowing Haines to sneak within six points, 80-74, on a Stuart DeWitt 3-ball, Angoon pulled away and put its finishing touches on the title game.
Ozelle Jamestown said it always feels good to win it all.
“I think it’s like everybody always says, the first one’s best,” Ozelle Jamestown said. “But this one means just as much. We got to play with the same group of guys, with the addition of Clayton.
“And, again, for the community, it means the same.”
The Angoon crowd in attendence was once again delirious as its hometown team celebrated in the closing seconds of the 17-point win, and Edwin finally had time to reflect after a long week of Gold Medal.
“I feel like I finally got that chance to play with the guys again,” he said. “It feels like all the hard work is finally paying off.”
Friske was the Merchants’ second-highest scorer with 19 points, while teammates DeWitt and Ben Egolf added 19 and 11, respectively.
Curtis Lane scored 16 points for Angoon and Ozelle Jamestown accounted for 14, with John Croasman Jr. pitching in 10.
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