The Intermediate final at the All Native Basketball Tournament saw Port Simpson match up against Bella Bella.
The game was a lopsided 92-47 win for Port Simpson, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t exciting.
Port Simpson’s intensity on both ends of the floor and the atmosphere in the gymnasium was absolutely electric. The cheering and chanting didn’t let up for one minute. To say the crowd was cheering for the hometown team, Lax Kw’alaams, would be a massive understatement.
“I’ve never felt anything like this (atmosphere) before. We couldn’t have done it without our fans, community and coaching staff,” said Port Simpson star and division MVP Jakob Henry.
Port Simpson got out to an early five-point lead 11-6. Both teams put all their energy into keeping the ball. Henry hit a three to add to the lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was where Port Simpson would pull away. It started with a discombobulated play, but that’s to be expected as the athletes are still young.
It was amazing to see all the athletes smiling and competing in such a positive way and picking each other up, including opposing players after they hit the deck.
Port Simpson’s ball movement and spacing of the floor created their open looks, right at the hoop. Combine that with their tenacious defence, and a 12-0 run, and their lead was pushed to 33-17. Another big problem for Bella Bella to deal with was Port Simpson’s size inside. They just couldn’t control the easy baskets that were created by size and length. Port Simpson also used a full court zone press to cause turnover after turnover, pushing the lead to 20 points at the half, 45-25.
Bella Bella started the second half on a mini 6-0 run, but that would be as close as they would get. After a Port Simpson timeout, the hometown athletes started to put it back together making their easy buckets.
The full court press created big problems for Bella Bella who couldn’t break the trap to get any easy transition buckets. Every possession late in the third frame had Bella Bella running up the floor like a one-man show, to try and get back in the game.
Unfortunately, Bella Bella would miss most of their shot attempts, leaving Port Simpson’s guards free to go the other way, and finish an easy jump shot, or find their big man John Tait inside for lay-ups.
Bella Bella resorted to jacking up three-pointers, and when you don’t shoot them at a high rate, that’s how blow outs happen. The final score was not a reflection of the game. It finished 92-47.
Henry gave us his thoughts on the game and Port Simpson’s expectations,
“It wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a good game. We just ran, ran, ran. They (Bella Bella) had to come in through the back door, so they were probably going to be tired. We were confident in our game, and our expectations were to win the tournament, so we were really confident.”
John Tait had a huge game inside, shooting and rebounding the ball at a very high rate for the home team and finishing with 22 points.
Port Simpson brought home their first Intermediate Championship since the 1970s.