Kitamaat defeats defending champions Ahousat to take Intermediate title
The defending champion Ahousat Intermediates met some familiar competition in the finals of the 54th All Native Basketball Tournament in the form of the Haisla Pride of Kitamaat.
After trading leads in the early going, Kitamaat was up 9-7 through five minutes of play. The two teams kept pace for the remainder of the quarter, which ended 13-11 in favour of the Haisla.
Ahousat came out firing on all cylinders in the second, quickly wiping out the Kitamaat lead and turning it into a score of 24-18 in their favour through five minutes of play. Kitamaat went on an 13-4 run late in the quarter to regain the lead and the half finished with the Haisla up34-31.
That back and forth continued in the third, with Ahousat leading 41-37 through five minutes.when the buzzer sounded to end the third, Ahousat held a six-point 53-47 lead.
But the game was far from over - a Kitamaat surge early on put them back in the lead and the two teams would battle for every basket. The game was tied at 59 midway through the quarter, but a 6-2 run put Ahousat in the driver's seat with 1:25 to play. After a three pointer to pull within one and some strong defense, a foul sent Darren Metz to the line where he went two for two to give the Haisla a 68-67 lead with 32 seconds left. When the Haisla pulled down the rebound on a missed Greg Charlie three-pointer the crowd erupted, and when Dustin Knaus was fouled and sank both his free throws, the sound was deafening. When the final buzzer sounded , fans rushed the floor to celebrate a 70-67 Kitamaat win.
"It feels gratifying. These boys have put years of hard work to deal with this type of pressure in close, tight games," said Haisla coach Mike Ridsdale, who said in the end the win could be attributed to "time".
"The time just ran out when we happened to be in the lead. It was a back and forth game, we were up, they were up. Ahousat is a very talented team, they won it last year and made it to the final so you really have to give it to them."