The Juneau-D.K. Mining team knew it would have problems with its depth during the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.
Thursday that lack of depth hurt Juneau as the Klawock-Prince of Wales team claimed a 54-41 victory to remain the lone unbeaten team in the Millennial Women's Bracket.
With the victory, Klawock, the defending women's champions, advanced to Saturday's 3 p.m. championship game. Juneau plays the Sitka-Daughters of the American Legion team at 3 p.m. today in the losers' bracket final, with the winner of today's game getting to play Klawock in Saturday's title game. Sitka stayed alive in the tournament with a 57-50 victory over Yakutat ANS Camp in Thursday's losers' bracket action.
Juneau's roster only had six names on it when the team entered the tournament, as three of the team's regular players are pregnant (one is still playing) and another blew out her knee a few weeks before Gold Medal. Juneau tried to expand its roster before the tournament started, but couldn't get all the teams to agree to let it add another player or two.
Thursday, Juneau only planned to use five of its six players so center-forward Shauna Murray could rest her aching right knee. But Juneau's plans changed with 8 minutes, 49 seconds left in the first half as Sue Beckerman went down with an injury to her left knee. Beckerman couldn't play the rest of the game, and Murray was pressed back into action, even though she was visibly limping.
``It doesn't work anymore,'' Murray said of her knee after leading Juneau with 17 points and 19 rebounds.
``I don't have any lateral support,'' Beckerman said after watching the second half of the game with ice packs wrapped around her knee and the leg elevated on the back of a chair.
Despite being down in numbers, Juneau stayed within striking distance of Klawock until late in the game. Klawock led the entire game, but Juneau trailed by just six points several times in the second half, the latest being 45-39 with 6:12 left to play.
``That's too bad for them because you don't want to see people hurt,'' Klawock's Ellen Hannon said. ``They gave us some good competition. They played us tough.''
``We had trouble with them,'' Klawock's Tina Almenzor said. ``They're a good team. It was a game, it was a good game.''
Jean Jackson scored 21 points to lead Klawock, which had twice as many players on its roster as Juneau. Almenzor scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds and Hannon added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Klawock knew Juneau was having depth problems earlier in the tournament, but didn't know Juneau planned to play with just five players until the shoot-around just before the game. Murray was in uniform, but didn't warm up before the game. She only scored one point in the first half as it took her awhile to get into the flow of the game.
Juneau used its size advantage to dominate the boards, but Klawock was able to bring fresh bodies into the game to keep the tempo up so it could wear Juneau down. Lucy Jones scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Juneau and Karn Hickock added seven points and 12 rebounds.
``We were aware, and we felt bad about it because we wished they'd stayed healthy,'' Jackson said. ``They're very tough and I'd hate to play them with an 11-player roster. We were trying to push the tempo. We tried to run them down.''
Klawock, which picked up a day off with the victory, now gets to watch Juneau and Sitka slug it out for the right to play Klawock for the title.
``We're glad to have the days off,'' Almenzor said.
``At this age, you like to have the extra day of rest,'' Jackson said.
Klawock is the only women's team in the tournament that doesn't have a designated coach on its bench. But the Klawock players said they have too many coaches. At least six of them have coached high school or college basketball and/or volleyball.
``We all agreed we didn't want a coach,'' said Jackson, who coaches Klawock's girls high school basketball team. ``We're playing with a lot of good, nice ladies. It really helps out because everyone's so supportive.''
Sitka 57, Yakutat 50
Stephanie Miller scored 22 points Thursday as the Sitka-Daughters of the American Legion team avoided elimination with a victory over Yakutat ANS Camp.
Karen Krupa added 16 points for Sitka, which plays Juneau-D.K. Mining in today's 3 p.m. losers' bracket final. Rachel Franceschini scored 13 points for Sitka.
Joan Rohloff scored 13 points to lead Yakutat, while Violet Sensmeier added 12 points and Connie Klushkan tossed in eight. Yakutat was eliminated from the tournament with the loss.
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