It was a classic battle of two opposing styles. The Klawock Old Totems had the size and the Huna Totem Oldtimers had the speed.
In the end, size mattered more and Klawock claimed its second Gold Medal tourney Legendary C Bracket title in three years with a 95-82 win over Huna on Saturday at Juneau-Douglas High School.
"It always feels good to win Gold Medal," said Klawock's Sid Edenshaw, who was named the bracket's Most Valuable Player. "We had good chemistry and the fellas played good ball together."
All tournament long, Edenshaw showed why he has been named MVP two out of the last three years. He was a dominant force in the paint, hauling in rebound after rebound, and even moved outside to hit a couple of 3-pointers. He ended Saturday's game with a team-high 25 points, following up games of 23 points against Sitka on Sunday, 30 against Yakutat on Tuesday, and 31 against Klukwan on Thursday.
Norm Skan had another fine game from the point for Klawock. When he wasn't feeding the ball inside to the big three of Edenshaw, Sam Peters, and John Garvey, he was making his own shots and finished with 24 points.
"It feels great," said Skan, who was named to the All-Tournament team. "We know that he's (Edenshaw) got to control the inside, and I gotta control the outside. It's nice that all our training pays off. We had to be in shape because Hoonah never gives up."
"They were big and in better shape than I thought," Huna's John Martin Jr. said. "We gave it our best and I'm glad we didn't give up."
It was a neck-and-neck game throughout almost the entire first half. The Oldtimers were without All-Tournament player Stu Mills, who broke a bone in his hand in Friday's win against Klukwan, but they still managed to move the ball around well to find the open shot.
Huna took another blow at the 7:07 mark of the first period when one of Huna's leading scorers, Greg Garcia, was called for his fourth foul. He was forced to sit the rest of the half and Klawock took advantage by taking a 50-39 halftime lead.
Despite the foul trouble, Garcia came out strong in the second half with 22 points and led all scorers with 32 for the game. However, he claimed he could not play as hard defensively due to the fouls.
"I couldn't play my defensive game. Some of the calls I kind of disagreed with the refs," Garcia said.
Huna found itself with more foul trouble in the second half when Louie White was charged with his fourth foul with 8:45 to go with Klawock leading 74-59.
The Oldtimers never gave up and with the help of their vocal fans, they tried to make a run at the 5:30 mark of the second half when Klawock looked to start running out the clock. Garcia hit a shot with 4:24 remaining to make pull the Oldtimers to within 79-70.
Martin Jr. was called for his fourth foul and at the 3:46 mark and Huna center Pete Schneeberger followed suit, leaving the Oldtimers with four of their regular starters with four fouls. Due to the foul trouble, Huna had few fouls to give in the final minutes and were unable to send Klawock to the line to try to gain ball possession.
"We could have used another body out there. I don't think we would have got in the foul trouble we did if Stu was there," Garcia said.
Garvey had another solid game for Klawock, scoring 21 points; Al Nix had 13 points - all in the second half; and Peters finished with 12 points.
White scored 22 points for Huna and was also rewarded by being name Best Defensive Player of the bracket; and Martin Jr. scored 17, including five 3-pointers.
"I had a long week - I feel like I've been sumo wrestling for an hour," Martin Jr. said. "I kind of regret hitting some shots early because they were all over me after that."
Also named to the All-Tournament team were Martin Jr., Garcia, Peters, Klukwan's Steve Fossman and Joe Parnell, Kake's Kip Howard, Angoon's Greg Bowen, and Yakutat's Joe Klushkan. And Klukwan's Greg Stigen was inducted into the Gold Medal Hall of Fame along with Angoon's Kenny Jackson.
Klawock legend and player-coach Dewey Skan said he was dedicating this year's championship to his and Norm Skan's late father, Dewey "Eagle Eyes" Skan Sr., who passed away eight years ago and is remembered by a number "9" inside a heart on the front of the Old Totem's warm-up jerseys. He also had only good things to say about his teammates, his opponent and the fans.
"It's been a pleasure to play on the bench with these guys," Dewey Skan said. "It's always a challenge when we play the Huna team. And I'd like to thank the fans that support us. We're a long way from home, coming from 300 miles away and they spent a lot of their own money to come here and support us."
Jeff Kasper is a freelance writer and former Empire sportswriter. He can be reached at 209-7427.