For the second time in a row, New Aiyansh (Gitmidiik Masters) is the All Native Basketball Tournament (ANBT) Masters Division Champion.
New Aiyansh went undefeated during the week to land a berth in the final played April 9 in the Main Gym at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre in Prince Rupert.
The final game was a rematch with the Gitwinksihlkw Lizards, who the Masters relegated to the elimination round on Thursday by a score of 94-74.
To qualify for the championship game, the Lizards were in tough against a Masset squad who fought their way through the losers side of the division derating Kitkatla and Kincolith to reach the semifinal Friday.
In that game Gitwinksihlkw secured the rematch against Gitmidiik in a see-saw battle that ended with a 65-63 victory on the last basket.
On Sunday, the Lizards hung around through the first quarter, but the fast-moving Masters started to distance themselves in the second frame opening a 41-29 lead at the half and would not look back.
In the third quarter, New Aiyansh maintained a double-digit cushion of 10 points then turned on the jets in the fourth pulling away for a 95-77 victory when the final buzzer sounded.
It was a full team effort for the Masters with six players putting up double digits led by Phillip Clayton with 24.
Justin Adams, who was named Most Valuable Player in the Masters Division, scored 18 on the day for New Aiyansh.
John Johansen was the top scorer for Gitwinksihlkw with 29 on the day.
New Aiyansh veteran head coach Tony Robinson, who wasn’t able to make it for the 2020 championship for medical reasons, was thrilled with the victory, his first championship in 22 years of coaching.
Robinson credited great play in the paint for the team’s success.
“We have great post players,” he said. “Any of our guys can post, so that was my motto throughout the game, get it into the paint.”
Robinson was also thrilled just to be back at ANBT.
“It was wonderful,” he said. “Especially in the Masters Division. All teams battled for the W. It was all good games straight through the tournament. Gitwinksihlkw, hats off to them, they gave it a real good run.”