It wasn’t only entirely fitting that Sid Edenshaw’s Hydaburg team made it to the All Native Basketball Tournament’s (ANBT) finals on Saturday afternoon in the Master’s division, it was almost necessary. That is, if you ask any of the Alaskan Haida squad’s members.
“That’s the goal,” said the legendary and still active Edenshaw after his team pulled out a 90-68 win over their two-time defending champion Haida brethren from Old Massett to win the Masters team’s first title since 2009.
“We always expect to win … sometimes guys get caught up in hoping to win. We expect it,” he said.
It’s a tough task for any team in the hyper-competitive ANBT, but the Hydaburg squad is well-known for picking apart their opponents thanks to having played together all over North America for years and years in various invitationals.
The team went undefeated all week, securing wins over Port Simpson, Kitamaat, Bella Bella and, of course, the Haida Watchmen in the final – no slouches of their own, carrying such studs as last year’s Masters MVP Abe Brown, and Trevor and Eddie Russ.
“You always want to win at the end of the tournament,” said tourney all-star Matt Carle.
“You want to be the team standing with the trophy … we’ve played against [the Watchmen] for 20-plus years so we know that they’re always going to compete. They’re always going to come out with a lot of heart. They’re Haida, so it’s in the DNA to compete and play hard so we knew they weren’t going to quit.”
Hydaburg came out like gangbusters and before the Watchmen could blink, they were 20 points behind before the first quarter had even ended. Edenshaw’s group clogged up the passing lanes and took away any sort of breakout and offensive zone planning that the Watchmen wanted to run.
But to Old Massett’s credit, the team switched gears and preyed on a vulnerable Hydaburg side that may have gotten too caught up in their sizable lead as they made it a six-point game by the time the second quarter came around with a 19-5 run to put the score at 31-25.
“I think we got a little complacent after [our big lead]. We were up 20 at one point early and you expect your shots to keep falling, but they made a good adjustment. They went zone on us and they took away our shooters,” said Carle.
Brown finished the day with 17 points while teammate Trevor had 18 and Eddie notched 13 for the Watchmen.
Edenshaw, while slowed a little due to Father Time (he played in the 25th annual ANBT as an Intermediate 31 years ago), still sank 13 points. Carle scored 18, including 12 in the first quarter alone and Joe Young, tournament MVP, scored an incredible 41 points by game’s end.
“It’s always good the day you win a championship,” said Edenshaw.
“It’s been exciting for me since day one, but this is big for us because we haven’t been back here in a few years.”
Along with being named tournament MVP, Young was also chosen as the Masters’ Best Defensive Player as well as Mr. Hustle. His teammate John Carle was awarded the Sixth Man distinction.
Old Massett’s Brown won the coveted tournament high-scorer award and was also named the Most Inspirational Master.
The Most Sportsmanlike Team from the division was Hydaburg, AK.
The plethora of all-stars from the competitive conference included Matt Carle and Anthony Lindoff from Hydaburg, AK, Abe Brown and Trevor Russ from Old Massett, Bella Bella’s Daryl Easterbrook and Burt Gladstone and Prince Rupert’s Will Sheppard and Dan Walter, Alex Stevens from Greenville and Ellis Ross from Kitamaat.