If the North American Indigenous Games were any measure, basketball runs in British Columbia’s Aboriginal peoples’ blood just as much as their proud heritage.
Out of three different age categories for six boys and girls hoops teams (under-14, under-16 and under-19), five of those squads medalled, and two won gold in the extremely competitive continental tournament in Regina last week.
Leading the way was the boys’ under-19 team, which featured Skidegate’s Nate Vogstad and Joel Richardson (their story on B1) and Prince Rupert’s Perry Terrell.
The team struck gold in an 88-71 victory versus Wisconsin in the 12-team competition and more often than not, demolished their opponents by more than 20 points in each game. Vogstad, Richardson and Terrell were the 1-2-3 scorers in a quarter-finals game against New Brunswick.
The under-14 B.C. girls’ team joined them as champions when they defeated Team Ontario by one point, 46-45 in the gold medal match that saw Jada Dennis from Lax Kw’alaams and Jenna Shelford from Skidegate bring home a championship to the northwest.
Claiming silver, were the under-16 boys’ and girls teams. The boys lost a tough 78-48 decision to Team Wisconsin. Before that, they ran the table and went 3-0 against the Northwest Territories, New York and Manitoba in the round robin. Lax Kw’alaams’ Hayden Jeffrey and Will Nicholls were two key cogs in the well-oiled B.C. team that came within five points at half-time, coached by Davey Sundher. Jeffrey reached double digits in the final game.
“I’m proud of how our team came together,” said Sundher.
Masset’s Dion Lewis also played on the team as did Prince Rupert’s own Darnell Calder and Nicolis Campbell.
The under-16 girls’ scored themselves a silver lining in their trip out to Regina, claiming second-place in the final, falling to Wisconsin by a 77-70 margin. Haida’s Jasmine Hamilton was part of that strong squad.
The under-14 boys found bronze when they defeated Colorado, 54-42. Mike Hughan-Blazic and Davin McDonald of Skidegate played great basketball for the team, with McDonald providing key plays at the right time for the bronze medal game, explained the release.
Missing the podium this year were the under-19 girls, who won two versus Manitoba (by one point) and Nova Scotia (by 71) and lost two against Wisconsin and Alberta. Ontario ended up defeating Manitoba for the gold in that category. Lax Kw’alaams’ Gabby Jeffrey and the Haida Nation’s Vanessa Parnell took part on that squad.