The book has closed on the 2017 All Native Basketball Tournament and in the end, it was about repeats.
Of the eight teams to make the final game in each division, six of them were there last year and only one division crowned a different winner, but it was an exciting ride along the way regardless.
The Skidegate Saints miraculously extended their championship streak to six straight years. In a wildly entertaining game that saw the team down by 13 points with under seven minutes to play, the Saints rallied to tie the game with seconds left on the clock and ultimately win in overtime.
It’s fair to say most of the crowd fully expected the Kitkatla Warriors to finally overtake Skidegate as they had just a day previously, but the Saints proved their mettle.
It was also a lesson in heartbreak for the Warriors and their fans. The sudden collapse and ultimate loss left some players in tears. But it was a nice touch by their fan base to surround them on the floor, in a show of unity and support.
In the intermediate final, Port Simpson was the eventual winner once again, this time beating the Prince Rupert Synergy Storm in an exciting game for locals. After winning their first championship last year since the ‘70s, the Lax Kw’alaams team looks to be good for a while.
The Master’s final saw two familiar teams, as Hydaburg and Old Massett faced off, just like last year. And like 2016, the Alaskan men prevailed in what was a show of some highly skilled basketball players.
There were at least 12 combined MVP’s on the court, not counting Matt Carle Jr., who didn’t play. What resulted was a game of skilled ball, as Devin Edenshaw, the ultimate playmaker, led Hydaburg to a win over their Haida cousins.
In the women’s final, the Hazelton Mystics qualified for the second straight year. Last year, they lost to Bella Bella by six points, but the women managed to topple that team in the earlier rounds.
The Mystics faced Kitamaat and held off a strong rally from the Haisla Nation team to win in a spirited effort by both teams.
Even though only one new winner emerged, fans were treated to a Saturday packed full of outstanding basketball.
For the full stories of each championship game:
Women's Division: http://www.thenorthernview.com/sports/414287163.html
Intermediates Division: http://www.thenorthernview.com/sports/414305793.html
Masters Division: http://www.thenorthernview.com/sports/414306833.html
Senior Men's Division: http://www.thenorthernview.com/sports/414307183.html