All Native just two weeks away!

  • Jan. 24, 2014 8:00 a.m.

The biggest basketball event of the year is just over two weeks away, so organizers and teams are gearing up for the 55th annual All Native Basketball tournament. “All of us are looking forward to hanging out all week and competing against the other communities. It’s a really neat chance for people to get together. The size of the tournament, quality of competition and the energy around it makes for a great week,” said Dave Wahl, coach of the Skidegate Intermediate Saints. An estimated total of 3,000 spectators attend the 54-team tournament, which takes place in Prince Rupert from Feb. 9 to 15, said tournament president Peter Haugan. Most of the teams come from the Pacific Northwest but there are also a handful of others from southern BC, he said. Six teams will compete from Haida Gwaii: intermediates’ and seniors’ from Skidegate and women’s, intermediates’, seniors’ and masters’ from Old Massett. The Senior Skidegate Saints are favoured to come out on top in their division, while Old Massett is sure to be a strong competitor for the masters’, Mr. Haugan said. The Intermediate Skidegate Saints have been practising hard three times a week since September and playing well during exhibition games with the high school teams, said Mr. Wahl. He said the team appreciates the support it gets from people in the community during fundraisers and those who come out to games and watch it play. “We’ll try to honour that by playing well, giving it our best. It’s an honour that we get to go. I’m personally excited and I know the players are too. Best of luck to the other Haida Gwaii teams,” he said. This year, the Haida Nation dancers and drummers will be performing during the opening ceremonies. “We always get lots of fans and lots of interest from Haida Gwaii. I’d like to send a thank-you from the tournament to the Haida Nation. I know they’ve been practising lots for the opening ceremonies and they’ll put on a wonderful performance,” said Mr. Haugan.