The Lax Kw’alaams’ boys’ Junior All Native Basketball team came oh so close to claiming the 2015 title in Nanaimo last week.
After winning three straight games against the Heiltsuk Nation, Hazelton and Lytton, the North Coast team fell in their fourth matchup versus the eventual Junior All Native champions, Snuneymuxw Native Sons.
But they weren’t eliminated just yet.
With a spot in the semifinals thanks to their excellent play in the qualifying games, the Lax Kw’alaams boys faced off against the Syilx Nation’s team, but couldn’t overcome the strong Okanagan side and finished third in the 13-team tournament.
Snuneymuxw went on to win the crown in their own territory against Syilx 57-53 – the first time in more than 30 years that the Native Sons went all the way and the first time Nanaimo ever hosted the event.
“We won all this for Snuneymuxw people, our people and ourselves, but the joy was to win for all our fans,” said Native Sons coach Charles Gladstone after the hosts took the title.
Kitamaat went 0-2 in their games, falling to Ahousat and Hazelton and the Heiltsuk nation’s squad lost to Lax Kw’alaams and the Nuxalk nation.
For the girls, the Haisla Nation impressed the crowd with wins over Ahousat, Nuxalk and Kamloops, but they fell in the semifinals to West Coast Nanaimo to finish third in the 13-team tourney. In the end, the team went 3-2, with both losses coming to West Coast Nanaimo. The Syilx Nation took the female title, beating West Coast Nanaimo 53-38.
Other noteworthy teams to play in the girls’ tourney were Hazelton, who went 0-2, losing to Port Alberni and Kamloops, the Heiltsuk, who finished 2-2 by beating Snuneymuxw and Mt. Currie and falling to Lax Kw’alaams and the Nuxalk, the Lax Kw’alaams ladies, who also went 2-2, defeating Skidegate and the Heiltsuk and losing to Syilx and Kamloops, and finally Skidegate, who went 1-2, beating Snuneymuxw and falling to Lax Kw’alaams and Nuxalk.
– With files from Greg Sakaki and the Nanaimo News Bulletin