They won't be dancing in the streets of Angoon - at least not yet.
Angoon Kwaan defeated Kake KWBA 75-56 in a tooth-and-nail title game Saturday evening, winning its first Women's Bracket championship in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.
"They're going to be dancing in the streets of Juneau because everyone from Angoon is here," said Angoon's Meagan Gleason, a former Juneau-Douglas High School player who was named the bracket's Most Valuable Player.
The game wasn't everything Angoon had hoped for, but a championship is still a championship.
"It was an ugly, ugly game," said Gleason, who led all scorers with 27 points. "It was very sloppy and as much as we did to try and combat it, it wasn't going away. But we worked really hard and I think that's what pulled us through."
"This is the first Gold Medal that Angoon has won, which is pretty exciting," she said. "Everybody contributed and everybody played really well so it was definitely a team effort, and like I said before, we weren't a team prior to our first game so that's a pretty incredible feat."
Both teams came out fired up for the first half, swapping leads numerous times with each subduing the offensive tempo of the other team with strong defensive performances.
Tied at 15-all, Gleason hit a 3-pointer at 7:26, which triggered a 15-0 run by Angoon that didn't end until Kake's Jonna Adams made a lay-in with 3:34 left before halftime, bringing the score to 30-17. After losing momentum, Adams hit consecutive 3-point shots, at 2:23 and 1:56, narrowing the score to 30-23. Gleason responded by hitting another 3-pointer with 55 seconds left in the half, and after a couple of more points by each team Angoon had a 35-25 lead going into the break.
"Everything they threw up went in and everything we threw up couldn't find the bucket at all," said Kake's Michele Friday, who was named to the all-tournament team. "They were playing their game, they were making us run. If we would have been playing our game and slowed it down maybe they wouldn't have run away from us like they did."
Kake came out fighting in the second half, with strong defense and some sweet strokes by Adams. But Carmen Estrada, who scored all of her 12 points in the second half, and Gleason's sharp shooting were too much for Kake to keep up with.
Kake had a hard time coming up with rebounds at both ends of the court as Angela Kearns, Sarah Demmert - winner of the bracket's defensive player award - and sportsmanship award winner Amber Jamestown owned the real estate under both baskets. The quick defensive hands of Angoon's guards also disrupted Kake's rhythm, with Adams' 27 points the only double-digit scoring registered for the team.
"It was a lot of hard work," said Demmert, who scored 11 points. "Hard work, pressing the ball, and controlling the ball. I think controlling the ball was probably the biggest factor."
"We played well and had a good attitude throughout the whole tournament," said Jamestown, who added six points.
As time ticked away Kake appeared to have run out of gas, making a number of mental mistakes that only increased Angoon's lead. With 45.4 seconds left in the game, Adams grabbed a hold of Gleason's jersey as she darted by, fouling out to loud applause for her valiant contribution to the tournament. With the game all but over, Kake's Shawna Ashenfelter threw up a buzzer-beater 3-pointer, but it was too little too late and Angoon was crowned champion.
"This Gold Medal tournament was an incredible experience for me, especially because I've never been able to play in it before," said Gleason. "It was so great to open it up with these girls, because it was a really positive experience."
Melinda Joseph scored eight points for Angoon, and Melissa Kookesh and Vaeleen Araujo each added four.
Kake picked up six points each from Friday, Violet Anderson, Dawn Jackson, and Sarah James.
Eric Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.