After more than a decade without a team, the Gitanmaax Mystic have established themselves as a team to watch in the 2014 All Native Basketball Tournament in February.
The Old Hazelton Ladies team went undefeated at the All Native Qualifying Tournament held at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre over the weekend, edging out the Tofino ladies 54-51 in the tournament final.
It was a rough start for the Mystic as Tofino held the lead for the first half of the game and entered the third quarter with a 28-15 lead. But things began going Old Hazelton’s way in the third, as the team scored 22 points in the frame to tie the score 37-37.
“In the first half we were doing what we wanted to, but the buckets just weren’t going in. We stuck to our system. Coach wanted us to work it down low, and we kept on doing that and getting easy baskets. If you look at our shots, we had maybe 10 outside of the key,” said Tamara Stoney, who managed to drain two three-pointers in the third quarter.
The Mystic kept up their energy in the final quarter of the game, forcing Tofino to play catch up for the remainder of the game. When the final buzzer wentOld Hazelton took the 54-51victory. But Stoney said it certainly wasn’t an easy win.
“[Tofino] were after every ball and didn’t let us have any easy baskets. They ran the floor really well,” she said.
Head coach Duane Jackson, who is originally from Old Hazelton but currently lives in Prince Rupert, said the team will be working on a training plan in the months leading to the 2014 All Native Tournament.
“The ladies adhered to the process and trusted in [the plan]. We were getting a lot of shots, we just weren’t hitting them,” said Duane Jackson, coach of the Mystic.
“My job was to point out that the offence was working, we just weren’t hitting.”
Stoney said having Jackson as a coach is an advantage for the team.
“We’ve always had this kind of talent in our area but we never had anyone to tell us how to work together and what we need to do,” she said.
“We definitely have the height and a few players with experience. If we get in the gym enough and work on our inside game, we’ll do really well in February.”
Old Hazelton easily defeated Hartley Bay in their first game before taking out Old Massett 59-54.
Old Massett faced off against Tofino in the semi-finals, but were on the wrong end of an 84-47 final.