With 13 seconds left in the game, the women's Gold Medal championship was on the line - literally - as Kacy Lockhart stepped to the free-throw line for Lynden Transport of Juneau as they trailed Klawock-Prince of Wales by one point.
Lockhart went on to hit four free throws in the closing seconds - going seven for seven from the line in the game - to lead Lynden to a 60-59 victory over Klawock Saturday in the Premiere Women's bracket championship game.
"I felt pretty good stepping up to the line. I was confidant and we've really worked on our free throws," said Lockhart, who earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors. "Doing little mental games with myself in practices, like making 8 out of 10 or I'll run, doing little things like that really helped me to focus on puttin' 'em in."
Klawock, the four-time defending champions, controlled the offensive pace for the majority of the game but Lynden's dedicated defense was determined to keep the game close.
"All I was concentrating on was stopping them defensively," said Lynden's coach Jer Hamey. "... Defense was probably the main thing. We had subs at the end of the game and forced them to foul us and we just made some shots at the end of the game and were able to pull it out."
Defensive player of the bracket Heather Clark said Lynden was waiting for this game, a rematch of last years title game that Klawock won 68-63.
"It feels awesome. Two years in the making, it feels awesome," Clark said. "It couldn't be any better, it couldn't be any sweeter."
Lynden trailed 27-22 at halftime, but was able to slowly inch its way back in the final minutes of play. Lockhart stole the ball from Klawock's Jean Jackson with 1:08 to play, and then launched the ball up court to Clark who laid it in to tie the score at 56-56.
Tina Almenzar went to the line for Klawock with 15.7 seconds left, making the first and missing the second, which led to a rebound by Lockhart who was then fouled. Lockhart made both free throws at the 13-second mark, given Lynden its first lead of the second half by a score of 58-57.
"It was a little scary, quite scary," Clark said of the final seconds of play. "I had a lot of confidence but there was that little voice in the back of the head going, 'Shoot, let's not do this again.'"
While running down the court, Jackson lost the ball out of bounds with seven seconds left. Immediately after the inbounds, Lockhart was fouled and sent to the line with 6.1 seconds to go.
After Lockhart made both free throws, Jackson charged down the court and let loose a three-point shot, which was then rebounded and put back by Ellen Hannon, ending the game 60-59.
"It was a tough game," said Jackson, who made the all-tournament team. "I thought we played well, we came out and led them for a while and they just came through at the end with their free throws ... You can't win them all."
Hamey said Lynden was really focused and determined to win after placing second the last couple of years.
"That was two teams that just played as hard as they could," he said. "That was a really well-played game."
Lockhart said the MVP award is nice, but it's not what is most important.
"I thought I played well through the tournament, but it's not about the hardware for me, it's about the win," she said. "That's what it's all about."
Lockhart led Lynden with 21 points, Clark and Rena Balzer each scored 13, and Kara Lindley added eight.
Jackson led all scorers with 22 points, Hannon added 21 for Klawock, Almenzar had five and Joyce Moore scored four.
As one dynasty falls from grace, another looks to fill the gap. Clark said Lynden will be back at next year's Gold Medal Tournament to do it all over again.
"We're gonna try to come back again and defend our title," she said.
Eric Morrison can be reached at email@example.com.
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