The Burnaby Chiefs have advanced to the Seniors Division Finals in the All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert after defeating the Skidegate Saints 87 -85 this afternoon (Feb. 17).
While the upstart Chiefs, in their first year as Seniors were never really challenged, on their way to a berth in the championship game with tomorrow, Coach Chris McKnight is not taking anything for granted.
“You can’t ever underestimate the Haida,” he said. “We’ve played them before and beat them and then they’ve kicked our butts in the final, so this is a tournament you can never underestimate village pride. Everybody plays hard and they could take it to the next level.”
McKnight could be getting a bit ahead of himself with the prognostication. Three teams remain on the Senior side of the tournament and while two are Haida (Massett and Skidegate) Massett still has to get by Similkameen tonight to face off against Skidegate on Saturday morning in the last semi-final for a spot in the championship game.
Nevertheless, any of the teams remaining are a threat.
“Getting to the final is only half the battle, winning in the final is the other half,” McKnight said. “Those guys can really play, so they’ll have another gear ready for us.”
Kobe McKnight, who was the 2022 Intermediate Division MVP as the Chiefs blazed their way undefeated to the title, should definitely be part of the conversation for Senior MVP, but the 20-year-old star is not even thinking about individual honours.
“I just want that championship, that’s all I want,” he said.
He added it is extremely satisfying to get all the way to the final in their first year and is confident going into the game tomorrow.
“We’re a bunch of young, quick 20-year-olds who play the game the right way,” he said. “They think we’re young, but I think we have a maturity to us to play the right way.
That right way, according to Coach McKnight, is ball movement.
“We have a lot of threats, we need to move the ball and make ourselves really hard to guard,” he said.
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