With the way the Burnaby Chiefs burned through the Intermediate Division of the All Native Basketball Tournament, an observer could have been forgiven for predicting a blowout in the final game.
However, the defending champion Prince Rupert Cubs, who were embarrassed by the Chiefs earlier in the week, were not going to give Burnaby the championship lying down.
In a physical and gritty performance, battling for boards, the Cubs kept the Chiefs within arms reach for most of the game never lagging more than a half dozen points behind the Lower Mainland squad.
It wasn’t until halfway through the fourth quarter that Rupert kind of let things get away from them.
Halfway through the quarter, they pulled within one point only to struggle to find the basket while the fluidly passing Burnaby squad manufactured a 10-point run that ultimately put the championship out of reach for the host team.
Chiefs head coach Chris McKnight credited the Rupert coaching staff for adjusting to his two-one-two offence and the Rupert kids for playing tough and making a game out of the championship matchup.
“We came out a bit flat and that’s just how it goes,” he said. “A lot of these kids… they were pretty nervous and we made a lot of mistakes, but thank God our defence was good enough to hold it down for us.”
He said it felt great to finally have a championship after many years of coming to the tournament.
“These kids work really hard and they deserve it,” he said.
The hard work paid off in particularly for Kobe Knight who picked up the tournament Most Valuable Player and High Scorer awards.
In the championship game, however, Jarrett Jacobs led the Chiefs in scoring with 28 followed by McKnight with 24.
For the Cubs, Rylan Adams and Kole Jones shared the honours each netting 19.