When the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament returns for its 67th edition this Sunday, two of the four Chilkat Valley teams will be looking to avenge losses in last year’s championship games.
The Haines Merchants held a 36-29 halftime lead against Hydaburg in the 2012 title game of the “B” bracket. Hydaburg recovered for a 71-67 win.
The Merchants have a lot of firepower on their roster -- provided to the CVN this week by the Juneau Lions Club -- but some will miss the event at Juneau- Douglas High School.
Ben Egolf, Tyler Healy and Tyler Swinton were all-tournament performers last year and are on the Merchant roster. Sarah Swinton this week said her son won’t be making the trip to Gold Medal from Oregon, where he is a golfer on a community college team.
There also were rumors that Will Egolf would play for the Merchants, but his Division I collegiate squad, Bradley University, earned a spot in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
Former Haines High School starter Kyle Rush is slated to compete for the Merchants, on a break from serving in the U.S. Navy.
“Hopefully, we can get redemption this year,” said Merchant Michael Ganey. “I think we’ve got a good group of guys.”
The Merchant roster also includes Dave Berry and Harry Rietze, who were all-tournament honorees at the recent Dick Hotch Memorial Basketball Tournament in Haines.
The Klukwan “B” squad was eliminated after three Gold Medal games last year. Jacob Hotch was the team’s representative on the all-tournament squad. This year’s roster features several athletes from Juneau, as well as locals like Cody Hotch and Michael T. Ward.
The Klukwan Masters were runners-up in 2012, falling to Kake, 64-62. Klukwan had a 3-0 record heading into the championship, and led, 38-32, at intermission. All-tournament honorees Jeff Sharnbroich and Rob Larose are back on the roster for 2013.
Master Joe Parnell said he wouldn’t guarantee victory at Gold Medal, but advised, “When you’re older, you’re wiser.”
There was discussion at open gym this week about whether Haines High School boys’ coach Steve Fossman was on the Masters’ roster. Fossman said he isn’t planning to play, but he did torch his younger opponents for several three-pointers on Tuesday. According to the rosters provided by the Lions Club, Fossman would be eligible to compete for Klukwan.
Klukwan also will enter a “C” team, made up mostly of men who won the Dick Hotch tournament in February. The Chilkats went 2-2 at Gold Medal last year, when Jason Shull was their lone all-tournament pick. Their roster includes Andrew Friske, the top scorer at Dick Hotch, and Stuart DeWitt and Jesse McGraw, who were all-tournament choices there.
DeWitt will be back at Gold Medal following a one-year hiatus due to injury. He said the crowds are his favorite part of the event, and the Chilkats will be trying to end Kake’s seven-year winning streak.
The tournament concludes on Saturday, March 23.
For more information on the tournament, visit www.goldmedalbasketball.org.