Both the teams vying for the Masters Division title at the 2023 All Native Basketball Tournament (ANBT) wanted it badly, but in the end Gitmidiik (New Aiyansh) edged out Hydaburg AK 66 – 59.
It would have been even closer, too, if Hydaburg had not pulled out all the stops to tie it up in the waning moments, which led to foul shots, the defending champions did not miss.
It was a chippy game, with Hydaburg seeking redemption for their 2020 loss in the final to the same team ending a five-year dynasty for the Alaskans.
Gitmidiik came out strong opening a 10 point lead in the first quarter. But Hydaburg, who showed grit and resilience throughout the week winding their way through the elimination bracket fought back bringing the score to a manageable 34 – 30 deficit at the half.
Early in the third quarter, Gitmidiik opened the lead up a bit again, but Hydaburg gnawed away at the lead bringing it down to a single point heading into the last 10 minutes.
Throughout the last frame, it looked to be anybody’s game with Hydaburg taking their first lead of the game, then losing it, but always keeping it within a bucket or two of going the other way.
With time running out, though, Gitmidiik continued to press forcing Hydaburg to into foul trouble.
Gene Wolff, who was the top scorer in several games for Gitmidiik throughout the week, put the game out of reach with under 30 seconds on the clock draining both of his free throws.
“This is a great feeling for the guys, they worked really hard, they all stayed on the same page, they really wanted this,” said Gitmidiik Coach Anthony Robinson.
In addition to a third straight championship banner for the team establishing a dynasty of their own, Justin Adams was named tournament MVP for the third time.
There were plenty of individual honours for the second place team as well.
Notably ANBT hall of fame Sid Edenshaw, who has taken multiple MVP honours in each of the three men’s divisions was given the Sixth Man award for the most valuable player to come off the bench.
TJ Young, who racked up more than 180 points for an average of 23 over the course of eight games was the tournament’s top scorer. He also took home the hardware for Most Outstanding Player.
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