The Haines Merchants and Klukwan Masters met similar fates in championship games of the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau last weekend. Both teams finished as runners-up after losing halftime leads.
The Merchants opened the tournament with wins over Kake and Angoon in the “B” bracket, and then fell to Hydaburg in the semifinals, 101-92. Haines earned a rematch with Hydaburg in the championship by defeating Metlakatla, 85-74.
Haines jumped out to a 36-29 halftime margin in the title game. Hydaburg seized the lead late in regulation and slowed down its offense. Haines High School senior Tyler Swinton knotted up the score at 67 with a trey, but the Merchants were shut out the rest of the ballgame, while Hydaburg sank four free throws to hold on for a 71-67 win.
Swinton scored 33 points and was the lone Merchant in double figures, playing under the direction of coach Steve Fossman.
“We made them work hard for their shots and it was a great game,” Fossman said. “The crowd had a good time.”
Ben Egolf and Tyler Healy each had eight points. Egolf, Healy and Swinton made the all-tournament team for Haines, along with Jacob Hotch of Klukwan ANS. Healy had 39 points in the first match-up with Hydaburg.
The Klukwan Masters tallied a 3-0 record on the way to the finals of their bracket, topping Kake, Hoonah and Yakutat. In the championship game, Kake avenged its earlier, eight-point loss to Klukwan, claiming the title in a 64-62 squeaker. Kake erased a 38-32 halftime deficit.
Rob Larose scored 19 points for Klukwan, followed by Jeff Sharnbroich and Chris Wassman, 13; and Joe Parnell, 11.
Larose and Sharnbroich were all-tournament honorees, and player/coach Larry Sweet received the Sportsmanship Award.
“We were playing as a team, together. You pick up guys from different places, and it’s hard to gel,” Sweet said.