For every shot the Juneau Arctic Lights missed during the Gold Medal Tournament-Showcase A Bracket championship game Saturday, it was one shot the Sitka American Legion team seemed to make.
A poor-shooting first half shut out the Lights, as Sitka claimed its second straight Gold Medal A Bracket championship 101-95 Saturday night.
The Lights shot just 34 percent in the first half (13-of-38) and 43 percent for the game.
``We missed so many shots,'' said the Lights' Ethan Billings. ``We had so many open looks underneath the net. ''
``We had a hard time putting it in the basket,'' said Jason Bavard, who scored 12 points for the Lights. ``We missed a lot of easy ones, and with a team like that you just gotta do it, or they'll burry you.''
Sitka, meanwhile, could no wrong. The team shot an average 42 percent from the field, but had several eye-popping plays, particularly at opportune moments. Guard Rich Krupa fed center Brandon McMann for an alley-oop jam to begin the second half.
``Sitka shot the lights out,'' Billings said.
Much like in the teams' previous meeting, play under the net determined the outcome. Sitka's inside trio of tourney MVP Steve Walker, Robert Miller, and McMann combined to score 37 points and controlled the boards.
``They were just dominating,'' Bavard said. ``They'd pass it down low to their big guys and they'd use their size advantage.''
Sitka jumped out to a 15-7 lead, then extended it to 20-11 and 52-36 at halftime. The Lights made several runs late in the game, and closed the gap to eigtht points, 81-72, with about four minutes to play.
But whenever Juneau made a run, Sitka would answer. McMann burried several big buckets from the paint in
the second half just when the Lights started to get back into the game. Sitka then controlled the tempo of the game and wait for open looks.
``They kind of slowed things up,'' Bavard said. ``Hats off to Sitka, they just beat us.''
Krupa led a trio of 20-point scorers for Sitka. Krupa poured in 23, McMann 22, and Randy Nutting 21.
Kevin Casperson led the Lights with 24, Joe Kemp added 15 and Bavard finished with 12.
The teams have met in the A Bracket finals the last three years. Rich Krupa, who's been the team for eight years, said a rivalry is developing between the teams.
``Oh yeah it's a rivalry, but it's fun,'' said Krupa, who's friends with many players on the Lights. ``We have a good time. It's a lot of fun to play these guys.''
McMann, who used to coach at Mt. Edgecumbe and currently coaches in Kotzebue, said a rivalry is definitely developing, but it's still a friendly one.
``No one drew any blood,'' he joked.''
ARCTIC LIGHTS 95
Saturday's A Bracket championship
Brandon McMann 8 6-11 22, Rich Krupa 6 9-14 23, Randy Nutting 6 4-6 21, Casey Demmert 4 3-6 11, Manny Torres 4 0-0 9, Steve Walker 4 3-5 11, Robert Miller 2 0-2 4. Totals: 34 25-44 101.
ARCTIC LIGHTS (95)
Ethan Billings 1 0-0 2, Robert Casperson 1 0-0 2, Craig Kahklen 1 0-0 2, Erick McCormick 4 0-0 9, Will White 4 2-2 10, Jason Bavard 4 0-0 12, Kevin Casperson 7 6-8 24, Seth Hunt 4 0-1 8, Greg Huebschen 5 1-3 11, Joe Kemp 5 5-6 15. Totals: 36 14-20 95.
SITKA 52, 49 - 101
ARCTIC LIGHTS 36, 59 - 95
3-point goals - Sitka 8 (Nutting 5, Krupa 2, Torres 1), Arctic Lights 9 (Bavard 4, K. Casperson 4, McCormick 1). Fouled out - Arctic Lights (R. Casperson, Hunt, Kemp). Technical fouls - Arctic Lights (Billings). Total fouls - Sitka 17, Arctic Lights 28.
Most Valuable Player - Steve Walker, Sitka
Sportsmanship Award - Butch Lincoln, NANA
Defensive player - Seth Hunt, Arctic Lights; Rich Didrickson, Sitka.
First team - Rich Krupa, Chad McGraw, Sitka; Kevin Casperson, Arctic Lights; Mark Haywood, NANA; James Wilson, Juneau All-Stars.
Second team - Jason Bavard, Arctic Lights; Al Woods, Chester Murphy, NANA; Ken Willard, Doug Bogden, Juneau All-Stars.