Merchants ready for Gold Medal
The Haines Merchants figure to have a size advantage at this year’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau. The competition begins Sunday.
Team stalwart Ben Egolf (6’10”) will be joined by his “little” brother, the 6’9” Will, on the Merchants’ roster. The younger Egolf wrapped up his Division I basketball career at Bradley University last spring.
The Merchants are in the eight-team “B” bracket that includes Angoon, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Kake, Klawock, Wrangell and Yakutat. They open play 6 p.m. Sunday against Wrangell.
The tournament runs through Saturday, March 22, at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Other players on the unofficial Haines roster are Dave Berry, Orion Falvey, Michael Ganey, James Hart, Tyler Healy, Scott Lesh, Ryan Olsen and Kevin Thompson.
The Merchants reached the tournament semifinals last year, before falling to Angoon and Hydaburg.
The “C” bracket also features eight teams, with the Klukwan Chilkats aiming to improve on a 2-2 finish that stalled in the semifinals. They open play 7:30 p.m. Sunday against Hydaburg, which topped the Chilkats, 90-76, last year.
The 2014 Chilkats’ team is slated to include Stuart DeWitt, Neil Erickson, Andrew Friske, Daniel Klanott, Jesse McGraw and Aaron Nash – who all were part of the squad that recently won the Dick Hotch Memorial Basketball Tournament for the second year in a row – plus a few additions.
Friske missed Gold Medal last year, and this year the team will be without the services of David Buss, a top outside threat, and Jason Shull. Buss and DeWitt were all-tournament selections in 2013.
The Klukwan Masters are the defending champions in their four-team bracket. Their first game is 12:30 p.m. Monday, March 17. The Masters will face Kake, the team they pounded, 63-35, in the 2013 championship, when Jeff Sharnbroich led Klukwan with 15 points. The Masters posted a 3-0 record at the competition.
All-tournament selection Joe Parnell confirmed he will play for the team this year. Fellow all-tournament honoree Steve Fossman will be coaching the Haines High School boys’ basketball team at the state tournament in Anchorage, where his son, Kyle, recently concluded a record-setting four years on the University of Alaska Anchorage hoops squad.
State also might have delayed the Gold Medal debut of Haines senior Justin Swinton, who was on the Merchants’ roster provided to the CVN this week.
Overall team line-ups are a bit of a mystery, and not for a lack of interest, as indicated by a message posted on the Gold Medal Facebook page this week: “We’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding final rosters for teams. If you have questions about who is playing on your team or another community’s team, please contact their manager or point of contact directly.”