After seven days of non-stop basketball, the All Native Tournament came to a thrilling finish on Feb. 17 at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre in Prince Rupert.
Two new champions were crowned, and two familiar teams defended their titles in four action-packed games that had the capacity crowd at a fever pitch.
The Women’s division crowned new champions as Kitamaat beat the Prince Rupert Rain 69-58. In the Master’s Division, Hydaburg had to come back in the second half of its game against Aiyansh to keep its championship streak alive for a final score of Aiyansh 84 vs Hydaburg 88.
In the Senior Men’s Division, the Kitkatla Warriors had to survive another overtime to win the championship game of the senior men’s division against a talented, veteran and determined Hydaburg side that would not stop fighting. The final result was Hydaburg 67 vs Kitkatla 70.
In the Intermediate finals, the Port Simpson Strike Force got off to a hot start and held off a skilled and determined Bella Bella team to go back-to-back. Both teams showed nerves early in the game, but it was Port Simpson, led by John Sampson with seven first quarter points, who found themselves first with a win of 98 over 87.
Three Nuxalk teams played in the tournament. The Intermediate Boys, the Nuxalk Braves, enjoyed a fifth place finish and were coached by Ryan Parr and managed by Wilma Parr. They range in ages from 15 to 21 years old, and player Isaiah Edgar received an All Star Award. Edgar will be playing on the Men’s team next year.
The Women’s team, the Nuxalk Spirit, range in age from 17 and up and were coached by Richard Hall and managed by Chantelle Saunders. They came in sixth place.
The Men’s team is aged 22 and up and was coached by Alan Edgar and managed by Laura McLennan. They placed seventh in the tournament. Louis Edgar got the Mr. Hustle award and the team was awarded the Most Sportsmanlike Team of the tournament.
“It was really exciting to see players from all over B.C., including former NBA player Damien Bell-Holter,” said Men’s Team Manager, Laura McLennan. “I read somewhere the tournament brings in over 2000 people to Prince Rupert which makes the small town pretty busy during the week.”