Hoonah goes out as repeat champions

Posted: Sunday, April 02, 2000

As the awards were being presented to the top Legendary C Bracket players from this year's Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, the crowd started chanting, ``One more year! One more year! One more year!''

Then, a fan ran up to the Hoonah Old-Timers' bench and handed a ``Go Hoonah'' flag to Bill Hutton, telling him to take a victory lap around the gym. The flag was then passed to Howard Starbard for a victory lap, and on to Bruce Noonan, Jim Dybdahl, Stu Mills and down the Hoonah bench until an emotional Louie White decided he couldn't run a lap.

Such was the scene Saturday night after the Hoonah Old-Timers claimed their second straight C Bracket championship with an 88-78 victory over the Klukwan Chilkats. Earlier in the tournament, the Old-Timers said this was their last Gold Medal for their core group of players. With a second straight title in hand, many of those players said they were standing behind their retirements, despite the wishes of the Hoonah fans.

``No way. This is it,'' Hutton said after his victory lap.

``There's very little chance I'll be back,'' Noonan said.

Even the Klukwan players, whose only Gold Medal championship came 33 years ago, appreciated the moment.

``It was an honor to get to play Hoonah in a game like this,'' Klukwan's Jeff Kasler said.

But Klukwan almost spoiled the moment.

Klukwan jumped out to an early 11-4 lead, only to see Hoonah come storming back to take a 13-11 advantage. From there the two teams swapped leads most of the first half, with Klukwan making a late run to take a 46-41 lead at the break. It was more of the same in the second half, with the game tied 71-71 with just over six minutes left.

That's when Noonan, White and tournament most valuable player Greg Garcia combined to turn four Klukwan turnovers into a 9-0 run. That sudden 80-71 lead was just enough cushion to last Hoonah the rest of the game.

``I don't know what happened, but we did it,'' Noonan said. ``We were playing tough defense, I guess.''

``I was tired at halftime, but late in the game there was this sense of urgency,'' White said. ``It was a heckuva way to go out. But it's a bittersweet moment for me. I can't even enjoy this.''

White said earlier in the tournament that he hoped to keep the team together, but now he's not even sure if he'll be back. The team will be too different next year, with what he called the Missing Four Horsemen (Dybdahl, Starbard, Noonan and Hutton). Combined with Mills, the five Hoonah starters have more than 120 years on the Hoonah roster.

``I can't complain, I guess,'' Mills said. ``It's always good to go out like this.''

Garcia scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Hoonah on Saturday, with Noonan adding 22 points and Hutton chipping in with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Garcia won the tournament's MVP award, but he said it could have gone to any of the Hoonah players.

``A lot of guys could have got this,'' Garcia said. ``We hung together and we picked it up defensively in the second half. We got that run and we kept the momentum.''

Garcia said he does plan to return to the team next year, and he thinks some of the players may change their minds.

``I don't believe they're leaving,'' Garcia said. ``They can still play ball.''

Rich Calkins scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Klukwan, which also lost to Hoonah in last year's title game. Kasler added 20 points, while Steve Fossman and Rick Leader both scored 13, with Leader adding seven rebounds. Greg Stigen scored nine points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Chilkats.

Calkins said the late turnovers killed Klukwan's chances of winning its first C Bracket title (the team's 1967 championship came in the Mighty B Bracket).

``We just couldn't take care of the ball,'' Calkins said. ``They made a run at the right time. We've got to persevere. It was a good championship game.''

``We ran out of legs at halftime,'' Leader said.

As for the Hoonah players, they just wanted to savor the moment. Dybdahl, who has been on the team for 28 years, even made special arrangements to be at the game. Dybdahl started the tournament, but on Wednesday he left the team to referee the Class 2A state high school basketball tourney in Anchorage. He was able to arrange his Saturday schedule so he could call the two early games in Anchorage, then flew back to Juneau for the title game.

``A man's got to do what a man's got to do,'' said Dybdahl, who joined Yakutat's Jim Bremner as the two players named to the Gold Medal Hall of Fame this year. ``All the other refs are players, too, so they knew what was at stake.''



Saturday's Legendary C Bracket championship


Steve Fossman 6 0-0 13, Don Hotch 0 0-0 0, Jeff Kasler 7 2-3 20, Rick Leader 5 0-1 13, Terry Friske 0 0-0 0, Larry Sweet 1 0-0 2, Jeff Klanott 0 0-0 0, Morey Meacock 0 0-0 0, Rich Calkins 8 5-7 21, Greg Stigen 4 1-3 9. Totals: 31 8-14 78.


Bruce Noonan 6 8-8 22, Louie White 2 2-3 6, Alan Fisher 0 0-0 0, Gary Brown 0 0-0 0, Bill Hutton 9 0-0 19, Andy Wolfe 0 0-0 0, Greg Garcia 11 6-9 30, Howard Starbard 2 0-0 4, Jim Dybdahl 0 0-0 0, Stan Savland 0 0-0 0, Stu Mills 3 0-0 7. Totals: 33 16-20 88.



3-point goals - Klukwan 8 (Kasler 4, Leader 3, Fossman 1), Hoonah 6 (Garcia 2, Noonan 2, Hutton 1, Mills 1). Fouled out - Klukwan 1 (Kasler), Hoonah 0. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Klukwan 16, Hoonah 17.


Most Valuable Player - Greg Garcia, Hoonah.

Defensive Player - Howard Starbard, Hoonah.

Sportsmanship Award - Myron Martin, Kake.

First Team All-Tournament - Steve Fossman, Klukwan; Bill Hutton, Hoonah; Bruce Noonan, Hoonah; Ken Johnson, Angoon; Louie White, Hoonah.

Second Team All-Tournament - Jeff Kasler, Klukwan; Rich Calkins, Klukwan; Greg Bowen, Angoon; Jon Jensen, Yakutat; Frank Lane, Angoon.

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