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2024 All Native Basketball Tournament - Day 7 Recap

Gitxaala narrowly squeaks into Senior semi-final with barn-burner against Similkameen

By the end of Day 7 at the 2024 All Native Basketball Tournament Feb. 16, the only things left to be decided were the second finalists in the Intermediate and Senior divisions and the champions of all four divisions.

In Senior play, the Burnaby Chiefs punched their ticket to the final in the winners bracket semi-final at 2:30 p.m. Just like last year, the first semi-final saw the Chiefs (83) relegate Skidegate (68) to the elimination bracket semi-final where they would await the winner of the 9:30 p.m. game between Gitxaala (Kitkatla) and Similkameen.

That late game was a barn-burner that required overtime to decide. Throughout the game the teams traded runs with a total of seven lead changes.

Early on, Similkameen looked to be in charge opening a six-point lead in the first few minutes. Gitxaala had an answer though cutting the lead to three before going on a 10-point run that gave them a seven-point edge. Similkameen would chip away at that, however, and by the end of the first frame it was 24-22 for Gitxaala.

The second period opened with the two teams traded baskets until Similkameen got into groove opening a 10-point gap with a 14-2 run. At the half the lead was 49-42 for Similkameen.

To open the third quarter, Similkameen padded the lead opening a 57-48 gap before Gitxaala got hot again putting up 12 unanswered points for a brief one-point lead. The rest of the period was tight, but four free-throws for Similkameen in the waning moments gave them a 68 - 65 edge going into the final quarter.

Following a field goal and a three-pointer to increase the edge eight points, Gitxaala once again answered with a big run, scoring 13 in a row for a seven-point advantage. Similkameen would bring it back, though scoring seven to send the game into overtime tied 82-82.

With just seconds left in the overtime frame and Similkameen up 91-90, a controversial call put the ball back in Gitxaala’s hands. In that situation, as it had been all game long and, in fact, all week, the player Gitxaala, wants to feed is three-time Senior MVP Jacob Thom.

Thom did not disappoint weaving through the Similkameen defence for a last-second layup that blew the roof off the Russell Gamble Gym and advanced Gitxaala to the semi-final this morning against rival Skidegate.

Both Gitxaala and Skidegate have won three of the last six Senior titles. In the semi-final on Saturday morning, however, even the high-flying Thom, who put up 47 of Gitxaala’s 74 points was not enough against the balanced attack of the Skidegate Saints, who had four players in double digits.

The final against Burnaby, a rematch of the 2023 championship game, goes at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Earlier in the day, the defending Intermediate champion Prince Rupert Cubs continued their undefeated streak dating back to their last ANBT loss in the 2022 final against Burnaby, who now play in the Senior Division. Their 80 - 63 victory over Metlakatla Alaska secured a third consecutive berth in the final.

Metlakatla was turfed to the elimination bracket semi-final where they faced Skidegate Saturday morning. The Metlakatlans dominated in that game with a 90 - 55 final setting up a rematch with Prince Rupert in the championship game scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight.

At the beginning of Day 7, the first finalists in each of the Women’s and Masters divisions had already been decided with Similkameen and Hydaburg respectively qualifying on Thursday.

For Laxgalts’ap (Greenville) on the women’s side, it ended up being a doubleheader, having to dispatch Vancouver before going up against Hesquiaht in the elimination bracket semi-final. They would come up well short, though, against Hesquiaht.

Although unranked at the beginning of the week the Hesquiaht Descendants went undefeated until they came up against the defending champion Similkameen Starbirds.

The Descendants left no doubt they deserved the rematch with the Starbirds, decisively running over third-ranked Laxgalts’ap 74-51 in the semi.

Similarly, on the Masters side, the third-ranked Prince Rupert Trojans would have to win two to punch their ticket to the final. Unlike Laxgalts’ap, however, Rupert was up to the task.

In the morning, they dispatched Massett without difficulty 71 -46 setting up the afternoon semi-final against the three-time defending champion Gitmidiik.

Gitmidiik suffered through the 2024 tournament without the full presence of three-time MVP and 2024 Hall of Fame inductee Justin Adams. Although Adams saw some floor time during the week, he was largely sidelined by injury.

Prince Rupert took full advantage Friday afternoon handing Gitmidiik its second loss 70-58 ending their bid for a fourth-straight title. The Masters final goes at 2:30 this afternoon against Hydaburg.

FEBRUARY 16, 2024 RESULTS *denotes elimination


9:30 a.m. Laxgalts’ap (Greenville) 67 vs *Vancouver 47

Top scorers

Laxgalts’ap - Braelyn Moore 27

Vancouver - Shenise Sigsworth 18

Semi-final 6:30 p.m. *Laxgalts’ap 51 vs Hesquiaht 74

Top scorers

Laxgalts’ap - Kristy Innes 15/Neve Wilson 15

Hesquiaht - Skylene Patrick 25


8:00 a.m. Skidegate 67 vs *Lax Kw’alaams 56

Top scorers

Skidegate - Levi Burton 26

Lax Kw’alaams - Lloyd Dudoward 23

1:00 p.m. Metlakatla AK 63 vs Prince Rupert 80

Top scorers

Metlakatla - Cameron Gaube 15

Prince Rupert - Rylan Adams 28

8:00 p.m. Skidegate 62 vs *Heiltsuk (Bella Bella) 55

Top scorers

Skidegate - Levi Burton 24

Heiltsuk - Blake Lansdowne 10/Reginal Humchitt 10


9:30 a.m. *Lax Kw’alaams 65 vs Similkameen 102

Top scorers

Lax Kw’alaams - Taylor Ross 25

Similkameen - Peter Waardenburg 19

11:00 a.m. Gitxaala (Kitkatla) 78 vs *Gitga’at (Hartley Bay) 65

Top scorers

Gitxaala - Jacob Thom 36

Gitga’at - Kaine Wesley 21

2:30 p.m. Skidegate 68 vs Burnaby 83

Top scorers

Skidegate - Jason Alsop 15

Burnaby - Jesse Barnes 25

9:30 p.m. Gitxaala 92 vs *Similkameen 91

Top scorers

Gitxaala - Jacob Thom 41

Similkameen - Kaleb Montgomery-Reid 19/Sterling Peterson 19


8:00 a.m. *Massett 46 vs Prince Rupert69

Top scorers

Massett - Jordan Williams 16

Prince Rupert - Brandon Sampson 23

Semi-final 4:00 p.m. *Gitmidiik (New Aiyansh) 58 vs Prince Rupert 70

Top scorers

Gitmidiik - Phillip Clayton 14

Prince Rupert - Brandon Sampson 32


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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