The trio of Louie White, Greg Garcia and John Martin Jr. combined for 70 points to lead the Huna Totem Oldtimers to a 94-87 win over the Klukwan Chilkats in the C Bracket winners' bracket semifinals Wednesday.
The Oldtimers, winners of the 1999 and 2000 Gold Medal Tournaments, are back in the finals after going two-and-out in last year's tourney. Now they just have to wait to see who will be their challenger in this year's title game.
Kake ANB plays the defending champion Klawock Old Totems today at 2:30 p.m., with the winner moving on to play Klukwan on Friday and a shot at the finals. Kake defeated Sitka, 83-73, and Klawock edged West Coast Stevedoring of Juneau, 79-76, in losers' bracket games on Wednesday.
"I teased my dad last year that if Huna doesn't win the championship, I'll play with them next year," Martin Jr. said. "We have a great team this year, and we had a great team last year."
Huna scored first and held a slight advantage throughout the first half and led 41-39 at the break. The Chilkats showed the resiliency of the mountain range that bears their name by coming back from eight- and six-point deficits to keep the game close.
Klukwan briefly took the lead 43-42 early in the second period, but Garcia got heated up and when he drained his third 3-pointer at the 13:47 mark to make it 58-53, and the Totem Oldtimers looked in complete control.
"We trained really hard," White said. "We just don't give up. We stay with it ... when the going gets tough, we stay with it."
Rick Caulkins did his best to keep Klukwan in the game, scoring 15 of his 16 points in the second half, while Greg Stigen put in 11 of his team-leading 26 points in the period.
Things looked bad for Klukwan as starter Guy Tompkins fouled out of the game with Huna leading 86-72 with 2:26 to go, but the Chilkats made on last run. Joe Parnell sank a 3-pointer, Steve Fossman made two straight baskets, Caulkins scored and Stigen put one in to bring Klukwan to within 90-87 with 13.3 seconds left in the game.
Emotions ran high on the next series as Fossman was charged with an intentional and a technical foul for pushing Garcia. Garcia missed the first two foul shots and deferred to White who sank the last two to make it 92-87 and lock the win for Huna.
"At one point I look up and we're up by 13, the next minute we're only up by three," Martin Jr. said. "I knew they were going to be tough. They have a great shooter in Fossman and a great passer with Parnell. They put big guys on me -- they were determined to keep me off the 3-point line."
Fossman scored 21 for Klukwan while Parnell, Tompkins and Roger Sele each scored seven points. White led all scorers with 26 for Huna while Garcia scored 24, Martin Jr. had 20 with three 3-pointers, and Stu Mills scored 11.
The two-day break for the Totem Oldtimers gives them a much-needed mending period and time to scout their competition for the title. However, most of the players don't seem to care who they get matched up with.
"It doesn't matter to us who we play," White said. "We'd just like to see the best team and hopefully we'll be ready for the challenge."
"I think we'll see this team again, but it doesn't matter who we play," Martin Jr. said. "It will be exciting with whoever we play. I think the fans are ready to see us in the championship game after being two and out last year."
Kake 83, Sitka 73
It was all Kake ANB's Myron Martin in the first half and all Kip Howard in the second as the pair combined for 50 points to eliminate Sitka ANB.
Martin scored 21 of his 25 points in the first half, including three buckets from long range, while Howard collected 18 of his 25 points in the second half to lead Kake in scoring.
"Myron was really hot in the first," Howard, the leading scorer in last year's Gold Medal C Bracket, said. "If they guys are going to shoot the ball, then I'm glad. It takes the pressure off me."
Sitka made a strong charge midway into the second quarter with six-straight 3-pointers, including four from Gordon Bruin to give Sitka a 62-59 lead, but Kake answered by pressing Sitka and hitting some clutch shots of its own. Fred Blandov was pumped up on the bench when Kake took a timeout with 3 minutes to go, and his inspiration helped motivate his team to get back into the game.
"Everyone contributed on the team," Blandov, who finished with 17 points, said. "It takes teamwork. We stopped running and slow-down ball is not our game."
Sitka was led by Bruin's 22 points while Jim Scholz scored 18 and George Erickson had 17.
"It was deja vu," Bruin said. "It's the same thing that happened last year. They shot the ball well and passed the ball well. The whole thing came down to we just need one more player. We can't be competitive with six players."
Klawock 79, West Coast 76
The Klawock Old Totems continued its quest for a second-straight C Bracket title with a win over West Coast Stevedoring.
John Garvey scored 29 and Jerry Scudero contributed 22 as the Old Totems squandered a 14-point halftime lead to make it close.
Ken Kreitzer had 24 to lead West Coast while Bill Lockhart, Ray Kitka and Eric McDowell all scored eight points.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.