Defending Intermediate Bracket champion Angoon played Juneau tough on Wednesday morning considering it didn't have last year's tournament MVP, Bailey Johnson, until midway through the second half.
Still, Angoon fell to Juneau University of Alaska Southeast 74-58 in the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament at the Juneau-Douglas High School gymnasium.
Despite the loss, Angoon fans still had much to cheer for as Johnson, who served in Kuwait for the last nine months in the U.S. Army National Guard, returned home and went straight to Gold Medal from the airport.
Juneau UAS led 51-41 with 12:08 left in the game when Johnson entered the gymnasium all smiles. The Angoon crowd erupted as they saw their son come back home for the first time in nearly a year.
"I'm loving it," Johnson said. "It felt good to be back."
Johnson jogged to the locker room to suit up and entered the game with 11:10 left in regulation, all the while the Angoon crowd cheered as loud as it possibly could.
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Juneau was not awestruck as it continued to score. Ian Schmitz hit a 3-pointer that calmed, but did not quiet, the crowd.
"They were loud and that gives an away-game atmosphere," Juneau UAS player Ray Zimmer said.
With 8:03 left, Johnson picked up a rebound from the floor and scored underneath the basket. It seemed that Angoon would climb back into the game as it got hot with a 3-pointer from Stewart Jack, and then two scores off assists from Johnson combining for seven unanswered points to cut Juneau's lead to 60-54.
Juneau then slowed the tempo of play by running a half-court offense where they passed the ball at the top of the key repeatedly. Angoon fouled in hopes of stopping the clock but Juneau's Robert Beierly hit four free throws in a row to seal the victory. Beierly led all scorers with 17 points.
"A lot of us played on the high-school basketball team (JDHS), so we've all gone through the same program," said Zimmer, who finished with nine points.
Juneau's Jake Miller added, "It's a good team win, everyone contributed. They're an athletic team. We had to slow it down."
Angoon had strong offensive play from Stephen Johnson who finished with 16 points, and Jack who added 12 points.
Juneau advances to play Yakutat. Angoon will play Kake today, but will no doubt be a more complete team with Johnson able to play the full game.
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