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Teams play like champions at Junior All-Native Tournament in Nanaimo

Laxgalts’ap/Greenville wins U17 boys’ title, Nuxalk wins U17 girls’ title
Casey Moore of the Laxgalts’ap/Greenville Noosik looks to get to the basket during the Junior All-Native Tournament final against Syilx on Friday, March 24, at Nanaimo’s John Barsby Secondary School gym. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

A thousand Indigenous youths made “millions of memories” at the Junior All-Native Tournament this week on Snuneymuxw territory.

On Friday, March 24, the four champions were determined after a hard-fought day of basketball at the John Barsby Secondary School gym.

The Laxgalts’ap/Greenville Noosik won the U17 boys’ title, Bella Coola Nuxalk won the U17 girls’ championship, the Vancouver Island Sea Wolves won the U13 boys’ division and the Cowichan Surge won the U13 girls’ title.

In the last game of the tourney, the U17 boys’ final, Greenville was able to get to the paint all game long with a fast-paced style of play and the opponents from Syilx weren’t able to keep pace. The game ended with a comfortable 95-77 margin for Greenville.

“That was an amazing feeling. All year long we worked hard for this,” said Noosik player Ethan Clayton, chosen tournament MVP. “It was awesome to have our Nisga’a fans here and cheering, singing our songs.”

Lloyd Dudoward led the Noosik in scoring with 23 points in the final and Clayton and Casey Moore each scored 18. Syilx was led by Peter Waardenburg who scored 42 points.

The U17 girls’ final was a thriller, as Nuxalk won 82-78 in overtime against Syilx.

“We were all scared, but we just had to stay in the game,” said Kashlyn Mack, Nuxalk player. “We knew it was going to be a close game, so we just had to really believe in ourselves and trust ourselves.”

The gymnasium was cheering for Nuxalk and Mack said she didn’t really pay attention while she was playing, but during breaks in the action she looked around at all the people.

“It was amazing,” she said.

Nuxalk Nation was led by tournament MVP Annika Parr, who hardly missed as she amassed 44 points.

Asked about the feeling of winning JANT, she said “It meant a lot … It’s crazy. I’m shaking.”

Mack scored 16 points for Nuxalk. For Syilx, Kanani Coon scored 44 points and Presley Hopf added 21.

Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse, in his closing address, mentioned the “millions of memories” with 91 teams playing 188 games at seven venues, requiring 798 ice packs, 137 volunteers and countless hours of planning.

“Our friends and supporters at the Nanaimo Hospitality Association let us know that all hotels were full, restaurants were packed and retailers were excited to welcome our JANT athletes and visitors,” he said. “JANT was a momentous experience that benefited so many … It’s a testament to the power of sport to unite and inspire.”

READ ALSO: Junior All-Native Tournament about to start on Snuneymuxw territory

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Nuxalk Nation player Annika Parr, right, looks to get past a Syilx opponent during the U17 girls’ final at the Junior All-Native Tournament on Friday, March 24, at Nanaimo’s John Barsby Secondary School gym. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)