For the second straight year the Nanaimo Spirit faced off with the Metlakatla Crest in the finals of the All Native Basketball Tournament after losing to the Crest in the A bracket final and coming through the back door.
The familiar foes proved to once again be evenly matched in the early going as Metlakatla led by a single three pointer, 8-5, after five minutes. Neither team was able to pull away as the quarter progressed, but a buzzer-beating three from just past half court by Denise Wilson gave Metlakatla a 17-11 lead going into the second.
Nanaimo worked to chip away at that lead, but the Crest had an answer for everything and led 25-21 through five minutes of play. The Spirit had trouble getting much to drop in the later part if the quarter, which led to a 32-23 Metlakatla lead heading into the half.
Nanaimo’s offence started to click in the third as they trailed 38-35 through five minutes and tied things up at 38 just seconds later. With 10 minutes left it was still anyone’s game as Metlakatla held a slim 47-43 lead.
With such a close game and the championship on the line, the crowd became deafening with every basket, rebound and foul. Metlakatla held on to a 57-54 lead through five minutes, but the game was far from over. Nanaimo took their first lead of the game with 2:47 on the clock and with one minute remaining the score was 63-60 for the Spirit. A layup by Roberta Edzertza tied it up at 63 with 17.6 and she made good on a foul shot to give the Crest the lead. A collision with 8.5 seconds stopped the play and sent Nanaimo’s number 23 to the line who went 0 for 2, but Nanaimo got the ball back on a toss up only for the Crest to create a turnover and claim their first championship in five years with a 64-63 victory.
Metlakatla’s Judy Carlick-Pearson, who is a Prince Rupert city councillor, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Women’s Division.