Nanaimo repeats as Women's Division champions at All Native Tournament
The undefeated Metlakatla Crest were looking for their eighth Women's Division title as they tipped off with the defending champions from Nanaimo in the finals of the 54th All Native Basketball Tournament.
Neither squad was able to pull away early, with Nanaimo leading 9-8 midway through the first, but the chants of "Go Met Go" left little doubt who the crowd favourite was. The two teams continued to battle back and forth, and at the end of the quarter Metlakatla led 15-12.
Five minutes into the second the Nanaimo Spirit had begun to find their championship form, leading 28-21. But as the buzzer sounded to end the first half, it was still anybody's game with a score of 31-29.
The players on the court seemed to have an answer for whatever was thrown their way, with a single Nanaimo basket separating them five minutes later. Heading into the final quarter, Metlakatla trailed by just two, 45-43, ensuring an exciting conclusion.
As the clock wound down, the fans only got louder for every basket, foul and rebound. Metlakatla began to pull away, much to the delight of the pro-Crest crowd, and led 59-52 with just five minutes left on the clock. Stifling Nanaimo defense, though, resulted in a 63-61 Nanaimo lead with two minutws to go. A pass intercepted by Latasha Brlecic of Metlakatla with just 30 to go ended up sending Felicia Blandov to the line with 15 seconds on the clock, but Blandov couldn't get the ball to drop and a shot off the rim on the inbound pass gave Nanaimo their second straight Women's title.
The North Pacific Rain finished third and Bella Coola finished fourth.