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Nuxalk U17 girls win first place at Junior All Native Basektball Tournament

It came down to the final game against Tseshaht Pride

For the second year in a row, Nuxalk At’Maakw U17 girls captured first place at the 2024 Junior All Native Basketball Tournament (JANBT).

One of 148 teams from around the province, At’Maakw travelled to Terrace, B.C. where the Nisga’a Nation hosted the event March 17 to 22.

Angel Mack, assistant to coach Annie Pootlass, said after the team won first place at last year’s JANBT there were high hopes for them in 2024.

“A lot of people were talking about them because there is so much talent on the team,” Mack said. “There were lots of eyes on them.”

Going into the tournament, the team had recently placed fourth at high school provincials and because of that there was an expectation the team would make it to the finals at the JANBT.

While people were watching the game live, many tuned in online as well, she said.

“Friends all up and down the coast were messaging me about their performance at the provincials.”

In the first game against Lytton, the final score was 111-30. Next they played Lax Kw’alaams, winning 71-41. In game three against Tseshaht Pride they won 77-51. They played Heiltsuk Nation in the fourth game winning 108-52.

The final game saw them up against Tseshaht Pride again, this time winning 83-61, which was the closest game for the Nuxalk girls in the tournament.

“I’m very proud of the level of talent,” Mack said. “They have a strong possibility of winning again.”

Mack said the team has a strong defence”and a lot of talented offence .

“They applied so much pressure that the other teams had a difficult time. We had a two full court press we played against every team. The other teams were deflated and frustrated with all the steals and turnovers.”

Mack said coach Annie Pootlass has done the job for a long time and Mavis Walkus is the manager.

“Annie has dedicated her time to junior girls basketball in our community. She is very open and welcoming.”

They also coached the U13 Girls, who were second in their pool at the JNABT.

Winning the U13 were Gitlaxt’aamiks in the final game 37-26 against Gitanmaax.

Mack grew up playing basketball herself.

She started with U13 when she was 12 years old, and was part of the championship team at the JANBT, garnering MVP.

The team went on to win first or second place for a couple of years.

Once she aged out she went on to play at the post-secondary level for Camosun College and Thompson Rivers University.

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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