Good fortune started a little early for the Haisla Ladies team in the All Native Basketball Tournament as they ended up being the number one seeded team in the Senior Ladies division when defending champs from Metlakatla Alaska dropped out.
They had defeated the Haisla Ladies in last year’s finals.
Being the number one seeded team meant the Haisla didn’t have to play until Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. against the winner of Simpcw and Kispiox.
In all other previous ANBT’s the Haisla had usually started the tournament on the Sunday.
The Haisla defeated the squad from Simpcw (a First Nation from the Kamloops area) by a score of 56-47.
The team then had a day of rest waiting to play the winner of Nanaimo versus Vancouver, which turned out to be Nanaimo.
The game against Nanaimo was played on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. with the Haisla Ladies defeating Nanaimo by a score of 54-47, moving them into the winner’s semi-final game that same evening at 8 p.m. against the Prince Rupert Rain.
In a very low scoring affair the Haisla lost 43-40.
In this game the Ladies had a lot of trouble making their shots even though they had plenty of opportunities to score.
The loss moved them into the loser’s semi-final game on Friday morning at 11a.m. against the Canyon City Ladies from the Nisga’a area.
In a very entertaining and exciting game in which the Ladies trailed for more than half of the game, the Haisla eventually won by a score of 56-50.
That sent them to the final on Saturday at 1 p.m. against the team that had beaten them once already, the Prince Rupert Rain.
The final of the 2011 ANBT would mark the return of the Haisla Ladies team from the final game of last year’s tournament.
And the experience gained from the previous year’s final showed in the preparation for this one, as there was no visible fear or show of nerves shown by any of the players.
The game opened with the Rupert squad taking an early 6-0 lead. The Haisla team would recover by going on a 14-1 scoring run marked by two huge three-pointers from Crystal Smith.
It was a lead they would never relinquish, although it would get dicey near the end of the game.
The Haisla Ladies held a seven-point lead at halftime that they added to by the end of the third quarter for a lead of 13 points. They managed to hold onto that lead by holding off the determined Rupert squad by a 63-59 margin.
The roar from the Haisla faithful fans in attendance was deafening as the final buzzer sounded and they all flooded onto the floor to congratulate the team.
It’s been 11 long years between Ladies ANBT championships.
And two players from that 2000 championship team also played on this year’s, Deanne Smith and Liana Stevens.
All team members including the coaches and manager were presented with ANBT championship jackets as well as the first place plaques.
Individual award winners were
q Miranda Ross (All Star)
q Kaitlin Stewart (All Star)
q Jenny Nyce (6th man award – best player coming of the bench)
q Adelia Paul (MVP and the Miss Hustle award)
The team was also presented with the Ladies division game ball, which was decorated with First Nations artwork done by a local female artist.
The Haisla community held a celebration dinner on this past Sunday at the Haisla Recreation Center to honour the Ladies team as well as the Haisla Pride Intermediate Men’s team who are also the 2011 ANBT champions of their division.
Congratulations go to them as well for a job well done by going undefeated in this year’s ANBT.