Just over a month ago, Terrace basketball coach Toni Nisyok found out that her four girls, Faith Nisyok, Ashley Nisyok, Briana Greer and Brittany Peden had no team to play with for the 2015 Jr. All Native Tournament to be held in Nanaimo over spring break.
Determined to see her daughters play, she made a few phone calls and discovered that Prince Rupert coach Gillian Leeson had three players – Billie Leeson, Carly Cochrane and Cally Gladstone – in the same boat. After picking up another rogue player from Vancouver and now encompassing players from three official zones, the newly formed North Coast Ballers signed up for the 1st Annual VanCity U17 Girls Basketball Tourney March 15-20, an alternative to the Jr. All Native which some teams were unable to attend this year because of conflicting spring break schedules.
And although the team was freshly formed, they completely gelled and ended up finishing third out of the nine teams at the tournament.
“I had hopes for them, of course, because I knew my players, most of them, had played for the Charles Hays and the Caledonia teams,” said Nisyok.
“So we just rounded up teams and took them down there. We were happy with the outcome.”
The only two teams that the Ballers lost to were Vancouver and Greenville, the teams that placed first and second in the tournament respectively.
“They weren’t blowouts,” said Nisyok of the games, which ended with the North Coast team down by 11 and 10 points.
“We were right there.”
Faith Nisyok and Billie Leeson received All-Stars at the end of the tournament. But coach Nisyok said she “would like to thank each and every girl that played on the North Coast Ballers team – you were all a part of the team and we wouldn’t have done as well without your help”.