When the HoopTime A Team's offense wasn't clicking, the squad turned to its defense to get the offense started.
Margaret Sekona turned four second-half steals into breakaway baskets as HoopTime A beat Sitka Tribe 34-18 and claimed the first title in the inaugural girls middle school bracket Friday afternoon at the 57th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School.
In the boys middle school championship game on Friday, the Hoonah Braves knocked off Yakutat 47-38.
HoopTime only led by one point at halftime, 10-9, and that was only after a Sekona basket with 11 seconds left. The teams swapped baskets to open the second half, and then Sekona went to work. She scored on a nifty little off-balance scoop shot, then made a steal and scored. Sasha Frye scored off a rebound of a Sekona missed free throw, and Nellie Metcalfe scored on a long jumper for an 8-0 run that made it 20-11.
A few minutes later, Sekona scored eight points during a 14-2 run by HoopTime A, an Amateur Athletic Union club team made up mostly of seventh-graders from Juneau's two middle schools.
"They tried to block us, but we spread it out," Sekona said.
"We got going; that first half was pretty (lousy) and we wanted to do better," Frye added.
Sekona scored 14 points to lead HoopTime, while Frye, Allison Bremner and Darby Brown scored six points each. Lindsay DelMoral scored five points to lead Sitka, while Brooke Stockel and K.J. Lorenzo added four each.
While HoopTime only had one game on Friday, Sitka had to play twice. To reach the title game, Sitka beat Dzantik'i Heeni, 26-14, on Friday morning as Lorianne Wallace scored nine points and the trio of Stockel, DelMoral and Caitlin Parrent added four each. Kaylee Nauska was the only Dzantik'i Heeni player to score more than two points, finishing with six.
In the boys final, Hoonah led by one point, 23-22, shortly after the second half started when the Braves went on a 7-0 run that made it 30-22 and put Hoonah far enough ahead that it could coast the rest of the way.
Defense also played a role in Hoonah's run, but this one wasn't dominated by one person.
"Teamwork," Austin Lindoff said.
"Fast break," Lyle Coutlee said.
The game was a rematch of a game Thursday that Hoonah won 52-44. That one also was close at halftime.
"We played together," Michael Koenig said. "We always pull ahead in the second half."
"We pulled ahead the last time, too," D.J. Lindstrom said. "We just drive in and pass it to our buddies. Our record this year is 23-2. We won Fast Break (a Juneau tournament in December) and took second in the Paul Potter (tournament in Haines)."
Lindstrom scored 19 points to lead Hoonah, while Lindoff had 11, Koenig scored 10 and Coutlee added seven.
Ryan Grove led Yakutat with 14 points, Kyle Derek scored 12 and Jack Klushkan added eight.
Earlier in the day, Yakutat eliminated Sitka Tribe, 55-29, to earn a spot in the final.
Jay Sin scored 16 points to lead Yakutat, while Derek scored 14 and Klushkan added 13.
Bryn Calhoun led Sitka with 15 points and Elmer Diaz added seven.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARDS
Boys all-tournament team - D.J. Lindstrom, Hoonah (MVP); Michael Koenig, Hoonah; Bryn Calhoun, Sitka; Elmer Diaz, Sitka; Jack Klushkan, Yakutat; Kyle Derek, Yakutat; Carlo Ebron, HoopTime; Talisa Rhea, HoopTime; Bubba Larson, Dzantik'i Heeni, Robert Beierly, Dzantik'i Heeni. Team sportsmanship award - Kake.
Girls all-tournament team - Margaret Sekona, HoopTime A Team (MVP); Jessica Skaflestad, Hoonah; Lori Wallace, Sitka; Lela McArthur, Sitka; Nicole Fenumiai, HoopTime A Team; Sasha Frye, HoopTime A Team; Holly Bennett, Dzantik'i Heeni; K.J. Lorenzo, Sitka; Amaza Whittington, HoopTime A Team; Helen Flood, Dzantik'i Heeni; Brooke Lampe, Hoonah. Team sportsmanship award - HoopTime B Team.