The Klawock-Prince of Wales women's team used speed, depth and more speed to wear down the Sitka-Daughters of the American Legion squad 67-40 for its second straight Millennial Women's Bracket championship Saturday in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.
Klawock turned on the guns early, jumping out to a 26-7 lead before the game was even 12 minutes old. Then, after coasting and allowing Sitka to climb back into the game - Klawock's halftime lead was only 29-21 and it was 40-30 with 12:39 left in the game - Klawock went on a 20-2 run clinch the victory.
And that was a final RUN, as Jean Jackson and Christina Hamilton used steals in the backcourt, then quick outlet passes on the fast break to set each other up for 14 of the 20 points in the run.
``If all else fails, we run,'' said Jackson, who was named to the all-tournament first team this year after winning last year's MVP award. ``We had a lot of people step up tonight. Every single one of these ladies can start.''
Klawock had 11 people on its roster to just seven for Sitka. Plus Klawock had only played one game in the past three days so its players were well rested.
Sitka, which lost its opening game to Klawock to fall to the losers' bracket, had been playing every day of the tournament until getting an unexpected day off Friday when Juneau-D.K. Mining forfeited the losers' bracket final because of injuries. By Saturday night, the Sitka players were worn out.
Sitka's fatigue was so great at the end of the game that Klawock called its own timeout with seven minutes left - not so the Klawock players could rest or set up a play but so Sitka didn't have to use its last timeout so early in the game.
``OK, we're officially very tired now,'' Sitka's Karen Krupa said. ``We worked so hard in the first half staying up with them, we didn't have anything left at the end.''
``They have depth,'' Sitka's Stephanie Miller said.
Klawock had different players step up nearly every night, with all 11 players scoring in the tournament and five players hitting double figures at least once. Klawock center-forward Ellen Hannon was named the tournament's MVP this year, but she said it could have gone to any number of players from the team.
``This is a family affair,'' Hannon said. ``This is a game of surprises. We were ready for a tough game, but we got lucky and hit some shots early. Jean got us going with those threes. Everyone is so unselfish, and we have a quick transition.''
``We've got some offensive powerhouses,'' Klawock's Louise Walcott said. ``It's easy to play with great players.''
Jackson scored 23 points and dished out six assists to lead Klawock on Saturday, while Hannon scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. Hamilton, a 1999 all-tournament player who didn't really play in this year's tournament until the second half of Saturday's game, scored 12 points and Tina Almenzor grabbed five rebounds.
``I started getting back my form in the second half,'' Hamilton said. ``I got my wind back.''
Sitka was led by Krupa's 14 points and nine rebounds, while Miller added 11 points and nine rebounds. Rachel Franceschini scored six points, grabbed 15 rebounds and dished out five assists.
Earlier in the tournament, Franceschini said Klawock had all the needed components for a winning team - ``a big girl, a point guard and some wings'' - while Sitka was missing a true point guard.
Franceschini, who played forward for Fairmont State University of West Virginia this winter, split point guard duties with Krupa, a former Alaska Player of the Year. But neither is a true point guard and Klawock's defense exploited their unfamiliarity with handling the ball. Sitka committed 19 turnovers in the first half, about as many as most college teams commit in a full game. Things didn't get any easier in the second half, especially during Klawock's big 20-2 run when Jackson, Hamilton and other Klawock players made eight steals that led to breakaways.
Sitka, which was making its first trip to the Gold Medal Tournament, plans to retool its roster if the team is invited back to the tournament next year.
``Hopefully we'll get to be back next year,'' Krupa said. ``If nothing else, this has at least given us the opportunity to really start a women's team. Now we need to go look for a true point guard, and a true center.''
KLAWOCK-PRINCE OF WALES (67)
Joyce Moore 0 2-3 2, Louise Walcott 1 0-0 2, Anne Lutton 0 0-2 0, Christina Hamilton 6 0-0 12, Tina Almenzor 2 0-0 4, Ann Williams 1 3-5 5, Jean Jackson 9 1-3 23, Mary Edenshaw 2 1-4 5, Ellen Hannon 6 2-2 14, Kelli Larson 0 0-2 0. Totals: 27 9-21 67.
SITKA-DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN LEGION (40)
Trisha Thomas 1 0-0 2, Stephanie Miller 4 3-5 11, Kelsey Erickson 1 0-1 2, Rachel Franceschini 3 0-0 6, Karen Krupa 6 2-3 14, Daisy Casey 2 0-0 5, Tatiana Perkins 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 5-9 40.
KLAWOCK-POW29 38 - 67
SITKA-DAL21 19 - 40
3-point goals - Klawock-POW 4 (Jackson 4), Sitka-DAL 1 (Casey 1). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Klawock-POW 11, Sitka-DAL 16.
Most Valuable Player - Ellen Hannon, Klawock.
Best Defensive Player - Joyce Moore, Klawock.
Sportsmanship Award - Violet Sensmeier, Yakutat.
First Team All-Tournament - Denni Starr, Angoon; Shauna Murray, Juneau; Tina Almenzor, Klawock; Jean Jackson, Klawock; Stephanie Miller, Sitka.
Second Team All-Tournament - Lucy Jones, Juneau; Karen Krupa, Sitka; Jean Rohloff, Yakutat; Rachel Franceschini, Sitka; Louise Walcott, Klawock.