The Metlakatla Git' Taquan overcame a 15-point deficit to capture the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament Millenial Women's bracket title with a 69-60 victory over Juneau Imperial on Saturday.
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Ahead 42-33 at halftime, Juneau tried to pull away as it stretched its lead to 47-33. With 15 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the game, however, Juneau Imperial started to lose steam.
Metlakatla went on an eight-point run, started with a basket by Ashley Hayward and followed by three straight field goals from Vera James, bringing the Git' Taquan within six points at 47-41.
Metlakatla didn't look back.
"Once we got the rebounds, we could take the nice shots," James said of the run. "We had to go back to the basics."
Jennifer Lynch hit one from the field, and then Hayward was fouled on a basket and sank the free throw, cutting Juneau's lead to 49-46. A minute later Hayward repeated her feat, taking the foul on a bucket and nailing the free throw to tie the score at 49-49.
Hayward said she was determined, not nervous, as she stepped up to the line.
"I was just thinking that we've come this far and that there was no way we wanted to lose now," Hayward said.
While Hayward emphasized that the victory was a team effort, she said her two 3-point plays helped boost moral.
"We were behind, everyone felt down," Hayward said. "It brought enthusiasm to the team. We felt we could take this."
Stephanie Smiley scored and gave the Git' Taquan their first lead of night with 8:30 remaining, bringing the score to 51-49. Metlakatla continued to pull away, outscoring Juneau Imperial 36-18 in the second half.
Women's bracket awards
Meagan Gleason, Angoon Kwaan
Samantha Johnson, Yakutat
Tammy Strickland, Peterburg
Jennifer Thomassen, Petersburg
Lalani Finau, Ketchikan
Christy Williams, Ketchikan
Kara Lockhart, Juneau
Lucy Potter, Juneau
Talia Marsden, Metlakatla
Vera James, Metlakatla
Melissa Kookesh, Angoon Kwaan
Most Valuable Player
Stephanie Smiley, Metlakatla
Juneau Imperial's first-half push was lead by Lucy Potter, who scored the team's first 11 points. Potter netted a game-high 24 points, including four 3-pointers, but 19 of her 24 points came in the first half.
"We wanted to win. We got exhausted," Potter said. "Fatigue sets in and it's hard to score. Metlakatla is a good team, and you've got to play solid defense against them."
Potter felt the Git' Taquan may have destroyed Juneau's championship chances the first time the teams met on Tuesday and Metlakatla's 61-59 win sent Juneau to the loser's bracket.
"The first loss was a big loss," Potter said. "We played six games in a row. We were tired."
Juneau's Jennifer Mannix finished the game with 12 points. Deb Berry scored eight and Jocelyn Ramirez six. Shelly Hurt and Rena Balzer each had four, and Kara Lockhart brought in two.
Hayward led Metlakatla's scoring with 19 points. Smiley had 18, James 11, Lynch 10, Talia Marsden seven and Neely Humpherville four.