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62nd ANBT returns with a packed house

The Haida Nation led the ceremonial entrance to open the games

The 62nd All Native Basketball Tournament bounced back into Prince Rupert on April 3, after a two-year pandemic hiatus that saw the tournament benched due to COVID-19.

A sold-out opening ceremony led by the Haida Nation, saw more than 5,000 players, coaches and supporters raising the roof off the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, to celebrate the sport and coming together of First Nations.

“I’d like to welcome everyone once again for a great week of basketball and friendship making,” Peter Haugen, tournament chairperson said.

Drummers, dancers, singers, Matriarchs, Elders, and Chiefs all participated in the ceremonial procession in welcome around the packed gymnasium.

In a tribute to Lytton and an acknowledgment of what the basketball team has had to overcome to attend the games after the devastation donations were encouraged to be laid on the team flag in the center of the gym floor. More than $5,000 was raised in the tribute.

The tournament will see more than 52 teams go head-to-head and started with six opening women’s games on Sunday. The parking lot at the civic centre was three-quarters full before the first game at 12 p.m. on opening day.

The competitions will run until April 9, when the women’s finals will play at 1 p.m., the Intermediate division will play at 6 p.m., Seniors will play at 7:30 p.m. and the Masters will be held at 2:30 p.m.

The ANBT board of directors set the theme of this year’s tournament as “Celebrating Our Sponsors.”

“This year the committee made it clear we really needed to thank the sponsors who make it possible for us to provide everyone with another ANBT,” Haugen said.

“Without sponsors, there would be no portable court or new baskets,” he said.” We would have had to increase the ticket prices and entry fees to cover rising costs. We are fortunate to have their generosity.”

READ MORE: All Native Basketball Tournament confirmed to run full capacity

READ MORE: 62nd All Native Basketball Tournament cancelled for Feb. 2021