Huna ANB battled back from a slow start to overpower the Kake Tlingit Heat on Thursday and eliminate them from the Mighty B bracket of the 60th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament.
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Huna ANB led by five at the break but used a big second-half effort to defeat Kake 84-71 to stay alive in the draw.
Nate Strong scored 11 of his 19 points in the second half, and Huna ANB seized momentum after halftime. The team scored inside and withstood a furious second-half effort by Kake's Jesse Reese, who netted all 18 of his points in the second half.
Huna ANB will take on Hydaburg at 9 p.m. tonight for the right to play in Saturday's final.
"I was glad to finally have a game where we had a lead so we could rest for Friday and Saturday," said Huna's Travis Dybdahl.
Despite the final score, Kake gained an early lead. It took advantage of some defensive mismatches and bombed away from the outside. David Watkins hit two 3-pointers, while Scott Jackson, Anthony Dolan, Kyle Anderson and Mike Smith all connected from 3-point range early to take a 28-23 lead midway through the half.
"We didn't have the match-up we'd like for a couple of guys," Dybdahl said. "They had some guys hitting some 3s. It took us some time to get in the rhythm, but we found it."
Dybdahl helped Huna ANB get back in the game by powering through Kake's defense. He scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the first half.
Huna ANB started to turn the tide late in the first half. James Wilson stole the ball from the Tlingit Heat and found Kamal Lindoff on the fast break. Lindoff was triple-teamed in the paint but found Dybdahl, who scored to bring Huna ANB within one, 25-24.
A few plays later, Huna's Nate Strong tied the game at 29 with two free throws. Huna took the lead in the first half's final two minutes. Albert Hinchman knocked down two 3-pointers and Strong hit from the field, stretching Huna's lead to 40-35 at halftime.
Dybdahl attributed the Tlingit Heat's early energy to beating Haines Merchants in a tight elimination game on Wednesday. Kake topped Haines 85-78 Wednesday, while Huna ANB downed Angoon ANB 84-76.
"They were coming off a big win, we weren't," Dybdahl said.
For Huna ANB, Albert Hinchman finished with 14 points and Lindoff scored seven, including a 3-pointer. Russell Dick had five points while David Lindoff, Andy Gray and James Wilson each contributed four and Gary Brown added three in the win.
For Kake, Mike Smith ended the game with 18 points. Brandon Jackson netted nine, Anthony Dolen had eight, David Watkins had six, Scott Jackson had five, Rick Austin had four and Kyle Anderson contributed three in the loss.