The 2018 Junior All Native title is coming to the Northwest.
The Prince Rupert Tribesmen beat the defending champion Vancity Sons 69-61 in the U-17 boys finals of the tournament at Capilano University in North Vancouver on March 23.
“It’s a great feeling, a great way to end my Junior All Native Years with a big bang,” said Malcolm Brown, who finished the game with 20 points and four rebounds.
The Tribesmen entered the finals after going 5-0 for the tournament, including an 89-87 victory over the Sons earlier in the tournament. Brown said the earlier victory was big for the team as it helped them build momentum going forward.
“It really set the tone for the final game, and it gave us confidence that we could win it all,” he said.
The team’s strategy going into the game was to take advantage of having more rest than the Sons and push the pace of the game. However, despite playing some of their best basketball going into the finals, the Tribesmen fell behind early in the game, and trailed the Sons 33-30 at halftime.
Brown said the message from the coaches to the team at halftime was simple, don’t panic and play solid, fundamental basketball.
“We just had to keep our heads in the game, try to limit the turnovers and stay stronger on the defensive end,” he said. “We knew if we got stops, it would help us to score.”
The Tribesmen rallied, limiting the Son’s top scorers in the second half and getting quality baskets on the other end to fuel their victory. After the game was finished, the team celebrated on the court with their family and friends.
“It was like ‘Wow, is this really happening’,” said Brown. “I’ll always remember the intensity of the games and the crowd sending chills down my spine.”
The team was led by Kai Leighton who scored 13 points and pulled in 16 rebound and Cedric McKay adding 13 points and four rebounds.