The All Native qualifying tournament took place at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre from Nov. 23 to 25.
Six men’s teams and five women’s teams competed for three sports each in the annual basketball tournament that brings hundreds to Prince Rupert every year.
On the women’s side of the draw, New Aiyansh pulled away from Kitkatla in the second half of a hard-fought game to win the game 84-75 and take the tournament. New Aiyansh fell behind early in the first quarter 11-5 but some strong defense combined with timely shooting gave them a 26-25 lead going into the second.
Strong defense from New Aiyansh held Kitkatla to 10 points in the second quarter, giving New Aiyansh a 44-35 point lead at halftime. The teams exchanged baskets for the majority of the third quarter with Aiyansh able to extend their lead slightly to 13 points for a 68-55 advantage going into the final quarter.
New Aiyansh extended its lead early in the fourth quarter to 17 points, but a late flurry of baskets by Kitkatla’s Kristy Innes brought the game to within 10 points with less than three minutes remaining in the game. New Aiyansh would hold on to win the game behind 29 points from Kayla Vickers.
A strong defensive performance by Hydaburg gave them a comfortable 82-58 victory over Kitimaat in the men’s tournament. Damen Bell-Holter led the way on both offence and defence, scoring 36 points and maintaining a strong defensive presence in the paint. Hydaburg led 17-9 after one quarter before extending it to a 40-24 advantage going into the half. They stretched the lead to 17 points at the end of the third quarter before putting the game out of reach in the fourth.
The finalists from both the men’s and women’s tournaments received births in next year’s All Native tournament alongside the third place finishers in each draw. Massett and Hazelton came third in the women’s and men’s draws respectively to earn the tournament’s final two qualifying spots.