They might be the greatest all-Aboriginal teenage basketball team ever assembled from British Columbia, and this past week, they proved to North America they were just that.
A resounding 88-71 victory over Team Wisconsin in the under-19 final of the 2014 North American Indigenous Games gave Team B.C. its gold medal in convincing fashion last week in Regina, Saskatchewan.
“We watched [Wisconsin] a couple times before and they had a few really strong guards so we thought we’d match up well because our team is full of strong guards,” said Skidegate native Nate Vogstad, a guard himself.
“At the end of the day, we shut down their best players defensively. They couldn’t do much and we just pulled away.”
Despite his team’s dominance in the tourney, Vogstad, who collected 17 points, the third-highest total for anyone on the stacked squad that game, wasn’t entirely satisfied with his usual repertoire of tricks.
“The whole tournament I couldn’t hit a three [pointer] and that’s usually my game, so instead I decided to try and get to the free throw line and all that, so I tried to hit a bunch of free throws and was playing really aggressive,” he said.
Team B.C. demolished Team Florida, 82-26 in their first round-robin game then followed that up with a 100-39 winning performance against Team Nunavut, finishing atop the Pool B standings.
Their next test came in the form of Team New Brunswick who they faced in the quarter-finals. B.C. made short work of them with a 78-47 victory. Vogstad scored his first in-game dunk ever for that contest and northwest B.C. stars led the way for the team with Vogstad notching 15 points, fellow Skidegate Saints player Joel Richardson collecting 11 to go along with five steals and Prince Rupert’s Perry Terrell reaching 10 points and four rebounds.
“I missed the dunk our first game so I had to try again … it was just a wide open one so I gave it a try,” he said.
And in spite of some of the showmanship that may be on display with a team of all-stars, the guard said there was little competition to be top dog within the team.
“There’s always good players that set their egos aside. They might be star players on their teams back home but you’ve got to learn how to play the game without the ball really well,” said Vogstad.
“It took a couple games but once we faced tougher competition like Alberta and Wisconsin, it felt like we had played together for years before.”
B.C. toppled Alberta 65-45 to reach the gold medal game in the 12-team tournament.
It helps that Richardson has been playing with Vogstad since Grade 8.
“We’ve (Richardson) had chemistry ever since we started playing basketball so we’re always finding each other on the floor and gelling together,” said the Simon Fraser University-bound Vogstad.
The Indigenous Games experience as a whole impressed the team and one aquatic competitor even gave Vogstad a chuckle.
“Yesterday, we had our gold medals and we were walking around showing them off and then we see a little girl who had like five gold medals from swimming and stuff.”