After Thursday's loss against Lynden Transport, Klawock-Prince of Wales was back in character against the Haines Merchants on Friday.
With an obvious resolve to make it into today's 2 p.m. women's bracket championship game, Klawock beat Haines 81-54 in Friday's losers' bracket final at the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Klawock will face Lynden Transport for the championship at 2 p.m. today in a rematch of Thursday's game, which was won by Lynden 64-60. It was only the second loss in the four years of the women's bracket for three-time defending champion Klawock.
Klawock wasted no time against Haines, scoring first and dominating the court until the final buzzer.
"We knew we had to win," said Klawock's Louise Wollcott, who had 10 points in the game. "We came out and we were getting a lot of good rushes before shooting the ball, working the ball inside. The post players looked good down there, and we definitely shot a lot better today."
In the first half, Haines had trouble controlling the ball, and Klawock capitalized on the errors. Passing became a problem early for Haines, and traveling violations plagued the team. By the break, Klawock led 40-24.
"We just had way too many turnovers," Haines coach Douglas Olerud said. "Turnovers and their transition game were killing us. They've got many good ball handlers and we weren't able to match up with them. I guess we know what to work on for next year."
In the second half, a tired Haines team went through the motions but was unable to slow Klawock's momentum.
Olerud said Haines had spent a lot of energy in its Thursday night win over Kake, but playing at 2 p.m. the next day did not allow enough time to recover.
Haines had lost its first game of the tournament, but was able to battle back to Friday's semifinal in the losers' bracket.
"Monday we were getting used to each other," said Haines' Sara Swinton, who had 12 points Friday. "Tuesday we practiced. Wednesday was building. Thursday we won. Today we're tired and sick."
Two of Haines' player had the flu, Swinton said.
Klawock, which lost its 10 a.m. Thursday game against Lynden Transport, had a little more time to rest before Friday's match against Haines. Klawock used the loss as an opportunity to review its game plan.
"Yesterday after the game we went into the locker room and talked about strategy, communication, because we hadn't done that yet," said Klawock guard Molly Sharp, who had four points. "This game we just pushed the ball a lot and got a few good fast-breaks. It was really smooth."
"It's tough coming off a loss," said Klawock team manager and player Jean Jackson, who had a team-high 21 points against Haines. Jackson believes her team is much stronger because of the loss. "If we all play as well as we can, we know we can get there."
With the win against Haines, Klawock regained much-needed confidence going into Saturday's championship against Lynden Transport.
"We need to jump on them in the beginning, and not let them think they're going to get back in it," Sharp said.
Klawock's team also learned a crucial lesson.
"We learned how to relax," said Tina Almenzor, who had 15 points.