The All Native Basketball qualifying tournament came to a close over the weekend, with three teams qualifying for the tournament in February.
The final game was held Saturday between North Shore and Van City and it was a close one, 86-76 in favour of Van City.
An appearance in the final had already locked both teams into the main tournament next February, but bragging rights and pride were on the line as the two southern teams battled it out.
The game was a rematch of Friday night’s final game, which allowed Van City a free bye to the finals and forced North Shore to battle it out and play an extra game.
“For sure we want to play those guys again, its fun playing against them,” said North Shore guard Peter Cooper.
The extra game North Shore played was against Bella Bella, both teams had qualified for the main tournament, but a spot in the finals was on the line.
It was a hard fought game with North Shore coming away with the victory, but for Bella Bella, the real goal doesn’t get started until their first tip-off this February.
“I always felt that we didn’t deserve to be here, there’s too much talent on our team to be at the qualifying tournament, I think we should always be in the main tournament,” said Bo Reid, the head coach of Bella Bella.
A pair of great performances from players Gene Wolff, who amassed 22 points and Marlon Apps who led his team with 29 points, led Van City to the win.
A standout player for North Shore was guard Nate Kirk who scored 30 of his teams 76 points.
After the game, Wolff credits both teams for hard work and looks forward to the big tournament come February.
“It’s a reference point for us, they are a good team, so we know what we need to work on, it’s mainly about building character for us,” Wolff said when talking about his team’s potential. “I don’t count my chickens before they hatch, but we are just going to work hard and compete for the championship.”
While North Shore may have fallen short of first place in the qualifying tournament, players recognize the importance of just making it to the big dance this February.
“It means a lot, and we haven’t been here in a while and its an honour to be able to make it to the tournament, it’s a big deal we are ecstatic,” said North Shore forward, Terence Lewis, post game.
“That’s everything, we haven’t been here for seven years, and it feels nice to be back again,” Cooper added.
The actual All Native Basketball Tournament will take place this upcoming February.