If every final is played with the intensity and excitement of Saturday's intermediate bracket championship, the new bracket of the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament might be around for a long, long time.
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Angoon battled back from the loser's bracket and beat Kake 87-81 in overtime to capture the inaugural title. The I bracket is designed for 18-to-23-year-old men and this year replaced the A bracket, which feature adult teams from larger Southeast Alaska cities.
"It's the biggest thing of the year," Angoon guard Jay Johnson said. "Everyone looks forward to the tournament and we're bringing back the trophy for the first time in the intermediate bracket."
Angoon lost to Kake on Thursday to be sent down to the loser's bracket. The team rebounded to beat Yakutat in Friday's elimination game and received terrific contributions from up and down its roster in Saturday's win.
Leading the way for Angoon was playmaker Stephen Johnson. The point guard led all scorers with 37 points and kicked off the overtime period with a huge 3-pointer.
"There was a lot of pressure," Stephen Johnson said. "I haven't played in a championship game since my freshman year (of high school) in regionals. The is the first one in five, six years. It was awesome. It was great."
Stephen Johnson's 3-pointer, his fifth of the game, put Angoon ahead 77-76 just 33 seconds into the extra period.
Angoon then stiffened its defense, allowing just five Kake points the rest of the way.
Angoon hit seven of 10 foul shots down the stretch and Alper Johnson hit a running layup to give his team the title.
"We came ready to play today," Jay Johnson said. "It's the last game of the tournament, and we weren't messing around. The Kake guys played good, too. It was a good game all around."
Stephen Johnson ignited Angoon and its loud supporters in the first half by knocking down 3-pointers and attacking the hoop with a variety of spin moves. He scored 24 points in the first half.
I bracket awards
Stephen Johnson, Angoon
Loren Sands, Angoon
Derek Knudsen, Kake
Tim Demmert, Kake
Anthony Schmidt, Yakutat
Ben Dunbar, Yakutat
Johan Hinchman, Hoonah
Austin Bowen, Hoonah
Tracy Jackson, Kake
Most Valuable Player
Bailey Johnson, Angoon
Angoon jumped to an early 23-17 lead before Kake found its bearings.
Reserve forward Josh Jackson gave Kake a jolt of energy late in the second half.
Jackson's rebounding and offense helped knot the game at 27-27 with eight minutes left before halftime.
Kake went inside to Derek Knudsen for the remainder of the half as the previously undefeated team seized a 51-41 halftime lead.
Knudsen scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half.
In the second half, both teams battled intensely for the championship.
"It was pretty nuts today," Kake guard Tracy Jackson said. "It was intense listening to the crowd."
Kake took an eight-point lead, but Angoon fought back before Alper Johnson's 3-pointer five minutes into the half to give Angoon a 59-58 lead.
Angoon continued to lead behind a ball-control offense and Bailey Johnson's tough rebounding until Tim Demmert led Kake back.
Down 69-64, Demmert swished a 3-pointer then stole the ball on the ensuing possession and converted a layup to tie the score.
Angoon went back up and eventually took a 74-71 lead. Kake's Shawn Padgett tied the game with a long-range 3-point shot with 1:03 left in regulation.
After forcing a steal, Kake held the ball for the final shot but Padgett's 3-pointer fell short as the game went to overtime.
In overtime, Angoon's defense and clutch foul shooting proved the difference both Kake and Angoon fans roared with approval throughout the game.
Bailey Johnson scored 19 points for Angoon while Alper Johnson netted 17. Adam Johnson scored nine points. Jay Johnson and Loren Sands each added two points each in victory.
For Kake, Demmert poured in 22 points while Padgett scored 13 points, and Josh Jackson scored 11. Tracy Jackson had eight points, and Cyruss Mills chipped in three for Kake.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org