The defending champion Klawock Old Totems took one more step toward a repeat in the C Bracket with a 78-64 win over Kake ANB in a loser's bracket game Thursday at the Juneau-Douglas High School gym.
In last year's Gold Medal Tournament, it was Kake that lost its first game and won all the way through the losers' bracket to come within a game of making the oldtimers' title game. This year Klawock is in a similar situation.
The Old Totems lost their first game 85-68 to the Huna Totem Oldtimers, but have won three straight since. They defeated Yakutat ANB 69-54 on Monday and West Coast Stevedoring 79-76 on Wednesday to set up their game with Kake.
The Old Totems face the Klukwan Chilkats at 4 p.m. today in the losers' bracket final, with the winner advancing into Saturday's 4 p.m. championship game.
"We are looking at it one game at a time," Klawock's Mark Heard said. "We just hit our shots."
Klawock, playing with just five healthy players, came out with energy seen rarely in the Legendary C Bracket. The Old Totems took a quick 17-3 lead when Heard and Gold Medal Hall-of-Famer Norm Skan regularly found their marks.
"Sometimes part of our plan is not to be the team to come out flat," Skan said. "They came out flat. I don't think they expected us to come out like we did."
The Old Totems took their biggest lead of the game when they went up 30-13 on a basket by John Garvey with seven minutes to go in the first half. Garvey, who had been fairly quiet up until that point, took control of the game. He scored eight points in the final seven minutes of the first half as Klawock held a 41-28 advantage at the break.
Kake, who based its game on speed and running the court, had no answer to Klawock's big-man duo of Garvey and Jerry Scudero. Garvey continued to pound Kake in the second where he scored 17 of his game-leading 28 points, while Scudero was consistently solid, scoring 16 points in the game.
"They couldn't hang with us down low," Garvey said. "We have lots of guts for five and a half players."
Kake, led by high-flying Kip Howard, could not get within reach of Klawock in the second half. Kake got as close at 68-61 with three minutes to go, but the Old Totems were effective from the free-throw line and Kake did not score in the final two minutes.
"Kip was in foul trouble and they didn't put anyone else on us," Garvey said. "This time we came a little higher up and just got the better end."
Howard scored 23 points, while Myron Martin added 13 and Fred Blandov and Paul Rostad each scored 10. Norm Skan scored 16 points for Klawock and Heard contributed 14.
Kake took just four free-throw attempts in the game as the disciplined Old Totems committed just 10 fouls. And good thing, because Klawock's only reserve was injured player-manager Dewey Skan.
"We're here to play and whatever happens, happens," Dewey Skan said.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.