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Hydaburg climbs back into ANBT winner’s circle

Vinny Edenshaw scores 53 points in Masters Final versus Prince Rupert
Hydaburg’s Vinny Edenshaw (in black) was virtually unstoppable in the Masters Division Final at the All Native Basketball Tournament scoring 53 points en route to the title and MVP honours Feb. 17. (Phil Cornwall/Kids4Cameras, special to The Northern View)

The Hydaburg Warriors are back in the champion’s circle following the Masters Final against the Prince Rupert Trojans at the All Native Basketball Tournament Feb. 17.

While the Trojans admirably represented Prince Rupert to the thunderous approval of the hometown crowd in the Russell Gamble Gymnasium, the Warriors were too much for them as they quickly fell into a hole they were never able to dig themselves out of.

Vinny Edenshaw, who was later named tournament MVP, was virtually unstoppable as the Alaskans ran up a 19-6 lead early in the game. While Prince Rupert whittled away at it in the latter part of the quarter, Hydaburg was up 24-17 at the end of the first.

The Trojans continued to battle back as the second quarter got underway eventually taking a brief lead 33-29. That would be as they would come to the title though. An 11-point Hydaburg run to close the second frame left the home team behind 40-33 at the half.

It was more of the same in the third quarter. Rupert battled hard in the key and on the boards to stay within striking distance, but the Warriors expanded the deficit to 17 points with another late run to close the third period.

Prince Rupert would win the fourth quarter 24-19, but it was too little too late as the buzzer rang with the scoreboard reading 82 - 70.

Vinny Edenshaw led the scoring for Hydaburg as he had all week in the Warriors’ undefeated run to the Masters trophy. He had 53 points on the afternoon giving him the scoring title as well as MVP.

Although he welcomed the MVP nod, Edenshaw credited the team with the win.

“Great effort all around,” he said. “I wouldn’t go to war with anybody else. I tell them all the time, I would not go to war with anybody else. These guys. I love these guys.”

He also wanted to dedicate the win to long-time coach Matt Carle, who was unable to make the trip from Alaska due to health issues.

The Final was the second time during the week-long tournament the Trojans came up against Hydaburg, who sent them down to the elimination bracket where they were impressive in knocking off Heiltsuk (Bella), Massett and defending champion Gitmidiik.

Rupert coach Joe Woods said it’s hard to be disappointed with the loss.

“The guys have worked very hard all year, they came back door and they showed a lot of heart,” he said. “Nothing wrong was going down to the defending champs, they have so much experience. I’m so proud of the boys, though, they worked their tails off, they didn’t give up. All you can do as a coach is have your team work their butts off and they did. They held their heads up, they left everything on the floor and as a coach you can’t be any prouder.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hydaburg had a five-year dynasty going winning the Masters championship from 2015 - 2019.

Unable to attend in 2020 and 2022, Hydaburg returned in 2023, but a first-game loss 49-48 Gitxsan (Hazelton) sent them to the elimination bracket where they had to battle their way through six other teams to get to the final where they came up short against the defending champion Gitmidiik 66-59.

Edenshaw said he hasn’t been back to the tournament in seven years due to an exclusion from entering Canada in 2019 because of an illegal 2018 border crossing and then COVID-19. But he is looking forward to being back year after year and is confident this year’s win could mark the renewal of the Hydaburg dynasty.

“I think it might be, we’ll see,” he said.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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