Those gathered in the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on Saturday night witnessed one of the most exciting finals in All Native Basketball Tournament history as Port Simpson and Ahousaht battled for the Intermediate title.
After trailing early Port Simpson tied things up at nine with four minutes to go, a sign of things to come as the two teams kept pace with each other for much of the remainder of the game. When the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter, Port Simpson led 14-13.
More back and forth action ensued in the second with Port Simpson leading by three midway through the quarter, much to the delight of the defeaning crowd dressed in “Go Simpson Go” shirts who shook their noise makers and cheered at every basket, rebound, turnover or close call. By halftime Ahousaht had regained the lead, but by a single point with the score 28-27.
Ahousaht started to seemingly pull away and led 44-37 through five minutes of the third. A Charlie Leeson slam dunk just seconds later brought the crowd to their feet and energized the team, and with 10 minuted to play the score was Ahousaht 48, Port Simpson 45.
Port Simpson regained the lead 50 seconds into the final frame, which led to an explosion of noise from the pro-Simpson crowd, and the team would trade leads throughout the rest of the quarter. With five minutes to go Ahousaht led 59-57, and with one minute to go led 64-62. Port Simpson tied things up with 26 seconds to go, and got a pair of foul shots with just 4.4 seconds left on the clock, going one for two to take the lead. But a long inbound and surge by the tournament’s MVP led to a layup with just 1.1 seconds on the clock. A last minutelong distance shot by Port Simpson fell short and Ahousaht enjoyed a 66-65 victory.
After the game fans of both teams flooded the floor to congratulate Ahousaht and support and comfort Port Simpson.
In the second final, the undefeated Skidegate Saints faced off with the Ahousaht squad for the Seniors title. Ahousaht opened with back-to-back three pointers, but Skidegate proved up to the task and the teams were tied at 18 through five minutes. After the first quarter, Ahousaht led 30-24.
Ahousaht continued to lead through five minutes, but Skidegate came back. The first half ended with the promise of an exciting conclusion and Skidegate led by just a single basket, 52-50.
In the third though, Skidegate started to pull away from Ahousaht, who had been in a battle with Masset earlier in the day at the semi-finals. Midway through the third Skidegate led by five, but by the time the buzzer sounded that lead had extended to 75-60.
From there Skidegate outpaced the Ahousaht team, leaving the result no longer in question in the fourth. Skidegate led by 18 through five minutes, and ended up taking their first Senior title by a final score of 107-81.
Look for more on the All Native Tournament in Wednesday’s Prince Rupert Northern View.