The Mystic Sunz beat the Gingolx Storm 53-47 to win the B.C. Junior All-Native girls division title and they dedicated their win to their former coach, who was killed in a plane crash two years ago.
“It was tiring but it feels good to be back at home in Ahousaht,” Sunz assistant coach Qaamina Sam said.
“We set the bar high early and we accomplished what we set out to do.”
Twenty-six boys teams and 23 girls teams from First Nations across B.C. competed for their division titles at the week-long event in Port Alberni.
Playing before 900 fans at the Athletic Hall in Port Alberni, Gingolx lead by 11 points in the third quarter and the Sunz couldn’t get traction when Sam called a time out.
“We reminded them about how hard they trained to get to this point and that we were so close now,” Sam said. “We told them to push it, to not give up or let up.”
The Sunz scored six two-point shots followed by two three-point shots to draw even then pull ahead.
Gingolx fought back, pulling within three points in the fourth quarter. But a key defensive play by Sunz guard Corey Williams followed by four points sealed the championship.
The Sunz win was a team win, and Sam was hesitant to name individual players who the team counted on.
Gingolx however had no answer for Sunz post Nicole Botting, who scored 22 points and stopped as many if not more. She was named tournament MVP.
Sunz players dedicated themselves to a strict training regime since the fall that saw them run on their community of Ahousaht’s beaches rain or shine, as well as swimming in the cold ocean waters at 7 a.m. every morning.
“Two players quit because of how hard it was but came back later,” Sam said. “One of our players moved from Nanaimo to Ahousaht so she could be with the team.”
The Sunz title—even their presence at the Junior All-Native— almost never came to be.
Qaamina’s daughter Katrina English was living in Nanaimo two years ago when she saw the girls play. She moved to Ahousaht to coach the team, which she felt had the potential of winning a Junior All-Native title.
In June 2010, Sam was killed in a plane crash near Tofino along with her brother Hunter, cousin Samantha Mattersdorfer and pilot Damon York.
The community and team were devastated, and the team fell apart afterwards, Qaamina Sam said.
But the girls got back together again, winning a tournament in December.
“We vowed to keep Katrina’s dream alive and we did,” Qaamina Sam said. “We dedicated this to her.”
Read about the boys championship game here.