Junior All Native teams set

Junior ANBT ramps up in Nanaimo this week and ends Thursday with the boys' and girls' finals.

Following on the heels of the Prince Rupert-hosted All Native Basketball Tournament (ANBT) in February, the junior equivalent has started up in Nanaimo this week, with opening ceremonies having taken place this past Sunday.

The Junior All Native Basketball Tournament, hosted by the Snuneymuxw Nation, welcomes 27 nations at Nanaimo District Secondary School, John Barsby Community School and Vancouver Island University (VIU).

Among the B.C. regional boys’ teams trying their hand at the 2015 championship are squads from Lax Kw’alaams, the Heiltsuk Nation, Hazelton, the North Shore and Kitamaat.

The girls’ tournament includes squads from the Haisla Nation, Hazelton, Skidegate, Lax Kw’alaams and the Heiltsuk Nation.

The double-elimination format ensures the top teams will have the chance to show their stuff over the course of four days.

For the teams from Lax Kw’alaams, the athletes must prove themselves in the classrooms before they can be on the team.

“All the players are part of the high school team from the past season, so they’ve been practicing since November and then as the Junior All Native team, about a month and a half,” said Lax Kw’alaams recreation director Shawn Bourgoin last week.

“I believe that it’s actually a pre-requisite that you have good-standing grades and attendance in school as well as participate in the program.”

Monday afternoon saw an intriguing matchup between the Heiltsuk nation and Lax Kw’alaams on the boys’ side and for the girls, Skidegate and Lax Kw’alaams were currently duking it out at press time. VIU hosts the girls’ final Thursday at 1 p.m. and the boys’ at 3 p.m.