The old adage 'Defense wins championships' could not ring more true than it did in the C Bracket championship game Saturday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Then again, this wasn't exactly a lesson in offensive efficiency, either, particularly in the first half. But Kake was able to pull away with the victory, 61-49, over Sitka in the 64th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament.
The win gave Kake its fifth consecutive championship in the C Bracket, a new tournament record.
And also for the fifth time, Rudy Bean was the MVP.
With six minutes remaining until halftime, Kake's Nick Davis hit a running-hook shot from the left block to give Kake its first lead of the game, 15-14.
That would start a run for Kake that carried over to the second half, ending its misery on the offensive end. Bean's night epitomized the team's evening as whole - a slow start, but a strong finish.
Bean scored only four points through the first 17 minutes, but in the final three minutes he took over, connecting on a floater in the lane, a 3-pointer and three free throws to extend Kake's lead to 11, 29-18, at the half.
That would prove to be the turning point, as Sitka could not generate enough offense to get back in the game. The score was close through the first half, but Sitka did not take advantage of Kake's poor scoring.
Instead, it shot itself in the foot with 19 turnovers before the break.
Kake's Lloyd Davis said the team benefitted from the extra games played throughout the tournament.
"Our legs kept us going. We knew they were a bigger, stronger team and we had to fight it, and I think these extra games gave us a feel for the court and (helped) get our legs back in the tournament," he said. "This fifth (game) was a war - it was a battle. I take my hat off to our whole squad and to Sitka as well.
"We both fought for it and it came our way."
As for whether or not they'll make it six next year, Lloyd Davis said Kake is looking forward to the challenge.
"We're sure as heck are going to push for it," he said. "The pressure is going to be on us."
Bean's momentum from the first half carried over to the second, where he stepped up his scoring on his way to 28 points on the evening.
Including the final three minutes of the first half, Bean scored 24 points in the last 23 minutes of the game after scoring only four in the first 17 minutes.
With just less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, Sitka cut into the lead to make it a seven-point game, 47-40, on a couple of Jim Carson free throws. But after a Jay Peterson lay-up and two Lloyd Davis free throws, the lead was back to 11, and it never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Bean's 28 led all scorers, while Nick Davis was the only other Kake player in double digits. Peterson and Lloyd Davis threw in nine and eight points, respectively, while Kip Howard contributed six points.
Jim Carson led the way for Sitka with 19 points, while Rich Krupa was the only other player to score in double figures. Doug Drazkowski had eight points, while Michael Mills pitched in five. Sean Joslyn had four points and Chris Carson finished the night with two.
Kake defeated Hoonah 97-63 on Friday to earn a spot in Saturday's title game and a chance to avenge an earlier loss to Sitka on Monday, 88-78.
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