Metlakatla beat HoopTime of Juneau 84-58 Friday morning in the first middle school bracket championship game in Gold Medal history at the Juneau-Douglas High School gym, finishing the tournament undefeated.
HoopTime played back-to-back games on Friday, beating Kake 39-33 in the losers' bracket final, then playing Metlakatla an hour later.
HoopTime advanced through the losers' bracket after losing its first game, 24-14, to Kake on Monday. HoopTime defeated Hoonah 28-25 on Wednesday and Dzantik'i Heeni 22-16 on Thursday.
"Playing two games in one day is awfully hard," HoopTime coach Edd Webb said. "We're littler than everybody. But we've got tough kids, though."
Despite fatigue and a notable size difference between teams -- the Metlakatla players towered over most of the HoopTime players -- HoopTime tried to give Metlakatla a run for its money.
But Metlakatla established a 10-point lead in the first quarter. By the third quarter, the team had pushed the lead to 24 points, which it maintained until the final buzzer.
Seven players from Metlakatla scored at least seven points and four finished with double figures. Darrick Gaube led the team with 17 points. Layte Hudson contributed 16, Butchie Gray scored 14 and Anthony Nelson sank 10 points.
Down by more than 20 points, Webb put HoopTime's alternate team into the game in the middle of the fourth quarter.
"I wanted to give my other kids, who haven't had a lot of time, a chance to play," Webb said.
Webb started the HoopTime Basketball program to offer kids the opportunity to play after the middle school season ends in December. The program gives the kids direction and discipline.
"This is a big deal to these kids," Webb said. "I'm proud of every one of them."
HoopTime's Tres Saldivar scored a game-high 24 points, including a cross-court 3-pointer in the final second of the first half, and Austin Roberts contributed eight. Roberts, at 6-foot-2 the tallest player on either team, was in foul trouble for much of the second half and fouled out at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Metlakatla has not had a middle school basketball program for eight years. Rodney Campbell, Metlakatla's coach and former JDHS Crimson Bear, pulled the team together from the local youth league and raised money with the players' parents in order to fund the trip. The Chiefs raised over $6,000 in less than two months. The team has reaped the benefits of playing and practicing together.
"Their grades all got better, every single one of them," Campbell said. "It's done amazing things for them on and off the court."
Metlakatla has beaten high school C teams at Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe, Campbell said, making the Chiefs a "pretty legitimate team."
"We knew coming in here that we might be a favorite, but we weren't going to take anything for granted." Campbell said. "Every team played us very very hard in every single game here at the Gold Medal Tournament, and I hope they continue to have this tournament for these kids."
HoopTime's Webb is grateful to the Juneau Lions Club for giving middle school teams a chance to play in the tournament.
"It gives the kids so much to look forward to, and this is real helpful to make connections with other coaches from other communities," Webb said.
Webb said he plans to put a more organized program together for the middle school players next year, giving them the opportunity to play teams they may have to face next year at Gold Medal.
"What can I say? These kids show up and play their best," Webb said. "I've got 13 kids and every one of them played their guts out. I can't ask for anything more than that."
HoopTime 39, Kake 33
HoopTime edged out Kake in the middle school losers' bracket final early Friday morning.
Falling behind in the first quarter, HoopTime scored 20 points to Kake's eight in the second quarter to claim a 27-21 halftime lead. Hooptime maintained its lead, holding Kake off until the end of the game.
Hooptime's Tres Saldivar pulled in 19 points, the only double-digit scorer on the team. Nico Saldivar made a showing with six points.
Derek Knudsen led Kake with 14 points, and Lumpy Jackson had five.
Emily Wescott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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