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.
Women’s division finals: Prince Rupert Rain 58 vs Kitamaat 69
The Women’s division crowned new champions as Kitamaat beat the Prince Rupert Rain 69-58. Kitamaat took an early lead against the Prince Rupert Rain, utilizing aggresive full court pressure which forced turnovers and led to easy fast break baskets. Kitamaat took a 35-20 lead into the half, and outscored the Rain 21-8 to take a 56-28 lead at the end of the third quarter. The Rain were not finished, however, narrowing the margin to 12 points with a few minutes left in the game. Kitamaat held its poise and extended its lead to close out the game.
Prince Rupert Rain top scorers – Natalie Harris (12), Kristi Reece (10), Kanisha Stephens (8)
Kitamaat top scorers – Jennifer Nyce (14), Adelia Paul (12), Kierra Stevens (9)
MVP – Jennifer Nyce
Master’s division finals: Aiyansh 84 vs Hydaburg 88
Hydaburg had to come back in the second half of its game against Aiyansh to keep its championship streak alive. The challengers proved to be worthy opponents, matching Hydaburg basket-for-basket in the first quarter and going on a run in the second quarter to take a 42-32 lead at the end of the first half. At the beginning of the third quarter, Hydaburg immediately set an aggressive defensive tone, with guards Joe Young and and Devin Edenshaw pressing Aiyansh’s ball handlers full court, getting steals and pushing the pace the other way. Hydaburg went on an 18-8 run to tie the game at 52-52 midway through the period. After that, it was a back-and-forth contest through the fourth period until Hydaburg was able to pull away thanks to some clutch shooting from Joe and TJ young. With the victory, Hydaburg has won its third straight title.
Aiyansh top scorers – Justin Adams (26), Phillip Clayton (20), Gene Wolff (16)
Hydaburg top scorers – Devin Edenshaw (28), Joe Young (23), TJ Young (21)
MVP – Joe Young
Intermediate division finals: Bella Bella 87 vs Port Simpson 98
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 in the All Native Tournament’s intermediate finals. 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. Port Simpson made shots from the outside and were relentless on the offensive glass, creating second and third chances to score. The Strike Force were rewarded for the effort with a 15-point 26-11 lead after the first quarter. However, Bella Bella responded in the second quarter. Led by Jordan Gladston and Kobe McKnight, who had 11 points and 8 points respectively, Bella Bella was able to reduce the deficit to only six points at the end of the first half. The two teams played each other to a virtual standstill in the third quarter, with Port Simpson scoring 19 points to Bella Bella’s 18 points. In the fourth quarter, the two teams continued to trade baskets. Bella Bella closed to within seven points, but a timely corner three-pointer by Taylor Ross extended Port Simpson’s lead back up to ten. The Strike force would hold on to win their third consecutive intermediate title.
Bella Bella top scorers – Kobe McKnight (28), Jordan Gladstone (27)
Port Simpson top scorers – John Sampson (24), Jakob Henry (21), Hayden Jeffrey (21)
MVP – John Sampson
Senior men’s division finals: Hydaburg 67 vs Kitkatla 70
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. Kitkatla took control of the game early by moving the ball effectively on offense and shooting the ball well from the outside. Jacob Thom led the way for the warriors with 13 points including three of deep three-pointers and tight man-to-man defense in the half court. The Warriors were able to build a 34-20 lead at the end of the first half, but Hydaburg would not go away. The Alaska team outscored Kitkatla by seven points in the third quarter to cut the lead to 44-37, bringing the game within reach and setting up a wild fourth quarter.
Hydaburg, led by forward Damen Bell-Holter, opened the fourth on a 15-5 run to take a 54-50 lead with just more than three minutes remaining. Just when it seemed as if the game was going to slip away from the Warriors, guard Dustin Eaton hit back-to-back three-pointers to give Kitkatla a 2-point, 56-54 advantage. Bell-Holter hit two free-throws to tie the game 56-56 before Thom was fouled and hit two free throws to extend Kitkatla’s advantage to 58-56. Hydaburg missed it’s next shot and Thom was fouled again with a chance to end the game with two more free-throws. He missed both attempts, but Kitkatla got the offensive rebound and Adrian Robinson was fouled once again with an opportunity to ice the game with a little more than three second remaining. Robinson missed his first foul shot and then made the second, giving Hydaburg a chance to tie the game with a three. Bell-Holter took the inbounds pass dribble the full length of the court and drained a deep three as time expired to send the game to overtime.
Kitkatla got off to a quick start in the overtime period, taking a 66-62 advantage thanks to early foul shots and a layup by Thom. Hydaburg responded yet again, however as Bell-Holter scored on a drive to the basket to cut the Warriors lead to 66-64 and then hit a deep pull-up three-pointer to give Hydaburg a 67-66 lead with less than a minute to go. The Warriors put the ball in Thom’s hands, and he delivered with a deep high-arching three of his own to give Kitkatla a 69-67 lead. Hydaburg was unable to score on the following possession and Kitkatla held on to win the title and avenge last year’s overtime loss to Skidegate.
Hydaburg top scorers – Damen Bell-Holter (37), George Peratrovich (8), Nick Nix (7)
Kitkatla top scorers – Jacob Thom (36), Dustin Eaton (17), Charles Leeson (9)
MVP – Jacob Thom