Alberni hosts B.C. Junior All Native hoops tourney

Forty nine teams and up to 1,000 fans are converging on Port Alberni for the B.C. Junior All Native Basketball tournament next week.

Homiss Wolves youngest player Bryce Lucas

Homiss Wolves youngest player Bryce Lucas

March madness is coming from March 19-23 as 49 teams and up to 1,000 fans converge on Port Alberni for the B.C. Junior All Native Basketball tournament.

Teams are coming from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Interior and Northern B.C. to play in the venerable tourney, which is one of the oldest if not the oldest in the province.

“People are going to see some of the best players and the best fans in the province,” tournament coordinator Bruce Lucas said. “You won’t hear cheering and team tribal support the way you will here.”

There are 26 boys teams and 23 girls teams playing in the tourney. Defending champs Homiss Wolves from the boys division and Sylix from the girls are both gunning for the title again.

Homiss is a tribe within the Hesquiaht First Nation, which is part of the Nuuchahnulth nations on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

In the boys division, Lucas said Lax’kw’alaams, Heltsiuk, and Prince Rupert from basketball’s mecca of the North will likely provide the toughest competition.

“Vancouver  could be tough if their players from last year return.”

On the girls side, Sylix from Penticton will be team to beat. Their rivals from Bella Coola, who they beat for the title last year, are back as well.

There will be two girls teams from Port Alberni playing in the tourney. While there are no boys teams from Alberni proper, several boys from the Valley are playing on other teams.

Several members of the ADSS boys and girls basketball teams are playing in the tourney as well.

Native ball is less structured than high school ball, Lucas said. “Its really its own brand of ball — you have to watch it to see.”

But it’s different in other ways as well.

Some grandparents played in the provincials and now their grandkids do.

Fan tribal pride in their teams eclipses that of any school team pride.

And there’s a togetherness and closeness, even among rivals, that Lucas said he could see but found it hard to explain.“You can feel the ambience,” he said.

Lucas played on the Hesquiaht Braves team that won the junior provincials in 1977. “We only had 10 teams play then and in a tiny gym,” Lucas said.

Players are taller and more athletic now, he said. “I played against a guy who was six-foot-one and I thought he was a monster,” Lucas said. “Now there’s guys who are six-foot-five, six-foot-seven.”

Gear is different now as well. “I played wearing Converse Chuck Taylors,” Lucas said. “When leather basketball shoes came out they cost $32 and that was a lot of money.”

The tournament was held at the old Athletic Hall in 2009 and the facility burned down just months later.

“There were great games there, great rivalries and great players who are gone now,” Lucas said.

Aboriginal people took some time to warm to tourneys at the new Athletic Hall. “People are warming up to it now,” he said. “This generation is creating its own memories there.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station destroyed by fire after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

New Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayers was sworn in at a virtual ceremony June 17. (Submitted photo)
VIU’s new chancellor seeks innovation and equality in post-secondary education

Judith Sayers officially sworn in as Vancouver Island University chancellor

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read