The women had the honour of gracing the hardwood floors first as the 2022 All Native Basketball Tournament (ANBT) got underway at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre in Prince Rupert April 3.
In Game 5, the most exciting and closest of the first-round games Sunday, two hard-driving defensive teams from Massett and New Aiyansh (Gitmidiik) battled for a chance to play fourth-seeded Vancouver in Round 2 on Monday (April 4).
The Massett Raiders and Gitmidiik Thunder traded blows in the early going before the Raiders went on a 10-point run to open a 20-8 lead halfway through the second quarter.
By half-time the fast-breaking Raiders were in command 28-12.
The Thunder, though, opened the second half with a run of their own cutting the lead back to 11 and continued to dominate throughout the third quarter.
With 10 minutes left to play, it was a tight three-pointer separating the two squads.
Massett, however, would regain control in the fourth quarter scoring two baskets for every one of Gitmidiik’s. With less than three minutes to go the Thunder managed a flurry to bring the score within five points, but it was too little too late.
With 39 seconds left on the clock, Gitmidiik was forced to press hard giving Massett free throws to make the final 60 – 53.
Camryn Parnell led the scoring for the Raiders with 24 followed closely by teammate Sarah Edenshaw with 23.
Auzia Gonu scored 14 for the Thunder.
Massett will face Vancouver who got a bye into the second round by virtue of finishing fourth in the 2020 ANBT.
While the Raiders and Thunder were engaged in a hard-fought bout in the arena, the Kitkatla Warriors were thrashing Alert Bay (Nimkish Wind) in the Main Gym.
The Wind scored first with a free throw followed by a two-point basket, but Kitkatla shut them out for the remainder of the first quarter opening a 28-3 lead. In the second quarter, Alert Bay scored first again putting up their fourth point on a foul shot, but again were shut out by the ball stealing Warriors, who led 49-4 at the half.
The domination continued into the third until the lead was 58-4. A three-pointer to bring the lead down to 51 points briefly gave Alert Bay supporters something to cheer about.
The Wind showed some life in the fourth quarter actually outscoring their opponents 14-12, but the final was a lopsided 88-23.
Kitkatla goes on to play top-seeded Kitimaat Village in Round 2.
The other four games of the day, were also lopsided affairs, although not quite to the same extent.
Game 1 in the arena saw the Lax Kw’alaams Ladies up against the Greenville Aces. Greenville never trailed in the game steadily building their lead to a 68-47 conclusion.
Greenville will play second-seeded Hazelton in Round 2.
In the main gym, Game 2 proceeded between the Skidegate Saints and Gitwinksihlkw. The game started out tight, but by the second quarter Gitwinksihlkw started to pull away and never looked back sending the Saints to the elimination bracket by a score of 66-37.
With the win, Gitwinksihlkw earned the right to play third-seeded Prince Rupert in Round 2.
In Game 3, the Hesquiaht Descendants dominated Bella Bella (the Heiltsuk Women) right from the opening tip-off in the arena. By the end of the first quarter it was 17-6, at the half 41-19, at the end of the third 59-32 and when the final buzzer sounded, 80-50.
Meanwhile, the Similkameen Starbirds were pounding the Gingolx (Kincolith) Storm in the Main Gym.
Like Game 2, this one looked like it might be a battle with the two teams trading baskets through most of the first quarter, but Similkameen held the Storm to just five points in the second quarter while putting up 20 of their own.
The Starbirds also more than doubled Kincolith’s tally in the third quarter en route to a 74-39 victory.
Similkameen and Hesquiaht will face off in Round 2.
The losers of Sunday’s games still have a path to the championship. In the ANBT’s double knockout format, the teams will get a second chance in the elimination bracket.
Lax Kw’alaams will play Skidegate, Bella Bella will be up against Kincolith and New Aiyansh will face Alert Bay for a chance to continue.