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Klukwan Chilkats fall to Hydaburg in Gold Medal final


A slow second half doomed the Klukwan Chilkats on Saturday in the “C” bracket final of the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau.

Hydaburg trailed by double digits early and 50-44 at intermission but stormed back for an 88-74 win to repeat as champions.

“We had a really great tournament, great team ball, and have to hand it to Hydaburg because they shot the lights out tonight,” said Klukwan’s Reuben Loewen, who tallied eight points in the final at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Andrew Friske led the Chilkats with 21 points. David Buss and Jason Shull added 11 points each.

The Chilkats went 3-2 at Gold Medal, competing in a bracket for players age 32 and up. They topped Juneau’s Filco, 87-68, in the tournament’s opening game March 15, and then pounded Hoonah, 106-90, the following day.

That earned the Chilkats two days’ rest, but they came up just short of Hydaburg, 95-92, Thursday night. Klukwan had one more chance to reach the championship, and shot at a blistering pace Friday to topple Metlakatla, 97-76, to land the rematch with Hydaburg.

Buss, Friske and Shull were named to the all-tournament team, and newcomer Ryan Harms received the Sportsmanship Award.

Shull traveled from Washington for his Gold Medal return. In his opening game, he showed little rust, joining longtime teammates Friske and Stuart DeWitt as a trio of Chilkats scoring in double figures. He said representing Klukwan and the Chilkat Valley at Gold Medal is “a privilege.”

“I’ve been up and down, health-wise, for the last 10 years or so and had to miss some tournaments, but I’ve started some new medication and felt better this year,” Shull said. “You just can’t take anything for granted so I figured I would seize the opportunity and come up and try to play.”

When Shull wasn’t competing at the tournament, he helped coach his fifth-grade son, Finly, who joined former classmates on the Haines “C” basketball team at the youth Mike Jackson Memorial Shootout March 19-21 in Juneau. “We had a blast.”

Harms, a first-year teacher at the Haines School, is an assistant coach for the Glacier Bear girls’ basketball team. At last week’s tournament, he impressed onlookers with his speed and leaping ability at guard. Harms said teammates told him “it is a pretty big deal to win the Sportsmanship Award at Gold Medal.”

“I have always believed in ‘clean’ competition and allowing one’s actions and talents to speak for themselves, rather than getting involved with ‘trash talking’ an opponent or berating officials, and that includes the years I spent playing college football,” he said.

Harms got his introduction to the raucous crowds at Gold Medal, “especially for Hoonah and Angoon, both of which seemed to have their whole towns in attendance,” he said.

“The overall respect each team’s players had for one another was amazing to witness, and given the fact that many of the players have been competing against each other for the past 20 years or more only added to the level of competitiveness and desire to play hard,” Harms said. “I look forward to playing again next year.”

The “C” bracket was the best showing for Chilkat Valley teams. The Haines Merchants in “B” went 1-2, with Tyler Healy’s 40 points fueling their opening, 74-60, victory over Kake.

The Merchants proved dangerous, as their losses were to eventual champion Hydaburg, 85-70, and third-place Angoon, 70-64. Hydaburg dismantled Metlakatla, 94-56, in a championship game that ended with nearly two minutes remaining on the clock. Referees called the game off after a near brawl.

The Klukwan Masters, age 42 and up, also notched a 1-2 record, with a dominant win over Angoon, 74-55, a close loss to Hoonah, 56-51, and a runaway loss to Kake, 93-62. Hoonah took the championship over Kake, 58-52.

The Masters were shorthanded without the services of last year’s MVP Jeff Sharnbroich. Danny Thomas, playing in his first Masters tournament at Gold Medal, stepped up in the post and made the all-tournament team.

The “B” and “C” brackets had eight teams apiece and the Masters and women’s brackets had four each. Hoonah took the women’s title, 60-57, against Craig.


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