A memorable 74th Gold Medal basketball tournament comes to an end

    Hoonah cheers after winning the Master's championship game Saturday and receives their trophy. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The 74th Gold Medal basketball tournament came to an end Saturday night with the championship games making the crowds go wild.

    Tim Wilson, Hall of Famer and Co-Chair for the Gold Medal basketball tournament, remarked how this week has been a heartwarming return following a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. It brought both competition and communities together.

    "It's a lot of work, and it takes a lot of moving pieces. But overall, it's been great. We had more people this year than we did three years ago because I think people missed it so much. Gold Medal gives everybody the opportunity to family and friends to gather and meet in one spot," he said. "Everybody's friends, it seems like family. But then all of a sudden, your community steps on the court. All those friendships and stuff are put to the side until the end of the game. All these communities show up to represent their team. We needed to have this tournament."

    As usual, the tournament was held at Juneau Douglas High School.

    "A lot of the people that we work with at the school are new. So we're working on rebuilding those friendships with them. That connection we have with the high school is very important to us," he said. "You'll see Lions walking around checking doors and locker rooms, and it's because we want to keep that connection with the high school."

    A conflict Gold Medal has is the state tournaments run at the same time.

    One player, Andrew Friske, who plays for Klukwan in the C Bracket, went back and forth from Anchorage to Juneau throughout Gold Medal.

    Wilson said Friske flew to Anchorage to watch his kid play, and as soon as that game was over he flew back to play to Gold Medal; he played and with five minutes left in the game caught a flight back to Anchorage.

    Then he came back to Juneau to play in the championship game Saturday.

    Wilson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. His family the Beierly's did all of the announcing for Gold Medal for many years.

    "If I wasn't playing, I was announcing. I played for Juneau A and B and in the Master's," Wilson shared. "Some of these guys have been playing for 15 to 20 years. You have Hall of Famers this year that have over 20 years of Gold Medal playing experience. They know each other's strengths and each other's weaknesses. This year it was Andrew Friske, Jesse McGraw, and Matt Carle. Somebody has to send in an application for them, pretty much write their history about why they should get in, and who they played for. They have to meet qualifications."

    Gold Medal is the Juneau Lions Club's biggest fundraiser of the year.

    "The Juneau Lions Club is a nonprofit organization. We do a bunch of donations to different places like AWARE. Each community gets scholarships that we give. We have an eyesight committee where we do testing and stuff for people who need glasses and then we'll even pay for glasses," he said. "We keep none of it. What we do keep is just enough money to be able to put on the next event. The next Gold Medal. Just enough money to cover the schools, the awards, referees, hotels, rental cars, the trophies, and insurance. The school rental and the insurance are huge."

    Wilson added that the tournament largely benefits the city of Juneau.

    "What the players bring to Juneau when they come here, this tournament probably brings in around 2 million dollars to Juneau in one week.  From the hotels to the stores to the restaurants, to the movie theaters...Juneau Lions Club brings a lot to the community," Wilson stated. "But at the same time, we couldn't do it without all of our surrounding communities coming here and supporting it."

    Wilson also shared memorable games from earlier this week before the championship took place. 

    "It was Hydaburg and Angoon In the C bracket. The first time those two teams played each other, Vinnie Edenshaw, from Hydaburg split two defenders, got hit, falling down, shoots the ball, it rolls around and goes in at the buzzer. Hydaburg ends up winning by one. Those have been the two best games of the tournament. We've had lots of good games, but I think those two games will be games that I remember for a long time," Wilson shared. "Their second game Friday night, those two teams are so evenly matched, that one overtime couldn't settle it. So it went into double overtime before Hydaburg finally was able to pull it out. Friday night, point three seconds left on the clock, we have Vinnie Edenshaw at the free-throw line, and he has to hit both free throws to send it into overtime. He missed the first one, so everyone in the gym knew he was going to miss the second one...He shoots one. I bet that ball went 15 feet up in the air before it came down and hit the front of the rim. Bounced almost all the way back to the free throw line, George Peratrovich steps into the paint and jumps in the air. While he's in the air pushes it at the rim, and again, it rolls around the rim and ambles in, sending the game into overtime. Every time you thought that the game was going to be over, either Hydaburg or Angoon ended up getting up by 5 points. The other team would come storming back."

    Wilson added there's been a few games like that in the past where the energy from the crowd is so high that it makes the experience quite memorable. 

    Final Championship Game Scores

    Game 41-2:00 pm Women's Bracket
    Prince of Wales- 79
    Yakutat- 38

    Game 42-4:00 pm Master's Bracket
    Juneau- 43
    Hoonah- 64

    Game 43-6:00 pm C Bracket
    Filcom- 79
    Klukwan- 49

    Game 44-8:00 pm B Bracket
    Juneau- 86
    Hydaburg- 62

    View the full list of scores throughout the tournament and for previous years on the Gold Medal website.

    Below: Pictures from the championship Master's Bracket game between Juneau and Hoonah. The crowd's energy for Hoonah was wild, with chants of "Hoonah" echoing throughout the gym. (Hoonah in maroon and Juneau in yellow. Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)

    Below: Hoonah after winning the Master's championship game.

    Below: Juneau's Master's team

    Below: Bob Simms (left) and Dano (right) from KINY broadcasted Gold Medal live with play-by-plays all week, sponsored by Sealaska Heritage Institute and Huna Totem's Áak'w Landing. 

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