It was the first year of a new basketball tournament in the city of Juneau, and Thunder Mountain boys' basketball coach John Blasco hopes it's the start of a new tradition.
Nizich Dental and Canton House, both of Juneau, are the first-ever champions of the 2010 Black Friday Classic on the women's and men's side, respectively, and the 12-team inaugural tournament went off without a hitch.
"It's a lot of fun to get a lot of other teams together from all around, and Tanya (Nizich) and I wanted to bring something here not only for the fundraiser, but for the basketball community," Blasco said. "It was a great three days of basketball."
Admission to the event was free, but all other proceeds benefited the Thunder Mountain boys' and girls' basketball programs.
"We definitely want to make this a yearly thing. All 12 of the teams at the tournament want to make this a yearly thing," Blasco said. "A couple people were talking about other teams coming in, so we hope to make it bigger next year, and hopefully we can get more locals from Juneau to come watch."
The tournament featured teams from all over the state, including Haines, Hoonah, Anchorage and Fairbanks, but it was the Juneau teams that held down home court at the end of the day.
In the early matchup, Nizich Dental defeated Hutchison 43-33 behind 14 points from Nizich in the women's championship game. The team from the Fairbanks area fell behind early in the game and couldn't quite make up enough ground. Hutchison was able to cut the deficit to four points, 26-22, halfway through the second half, but Nizich Dental sealed the win with a 17-11 run in the final ten minutes.
Nizich Dental's Heather Clark said her team controlled the boards and that was the biggest reason for the 10-point win.
"We rebounded well. We were able to get in there with our strong girls and get the defensive rebounds. That was the key right there," she said. "We didn't expect to win - not when we saw them (Hutchison). I think we're pretty even, it just came down to who played defense better and who shot better."
Hutchison's Robyn Myrum led the way for her squad with 16 points, but it wasn't quite enough.
On the men's side, Juneau's Canton House took a five-point lead at intermission and blew it open in the second half to take the championship game 59-45. Alex Heumann was the high-point man against Huna with 19 points, followed closely by Bryan Hamey and Adam Nelson with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
"We played Huna in the Thanksgiving tournament last year, and they got us. We came back and had seconds, so this was a big game for us," Heumann said after the win. "We've got a bunch of guys on this team who have been playing together since we were 12, 13 years old, and we love nothing more than playing together.
"We were able to keep building that lead in the second half," he continued. "We kept moving the ball and kept our big guys involved. Those guys have been huge for us all tournament."
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