Photo contributedGreenville Timberwolves crowded by family and friends as they celebrate after their Junior All-Native victory.

Greenville Timberwolves claim title in Junior All Native

The U17 Nisga'a girls team lost a key quarterfinal, but battled back to defend their title

Going in as defending champions, the U17 girls Greenville Timberwolves nearly lost their title after a quarter-final defeat by Hesquisght Storm.

The highly-defensive game was low-scoring and coach Marietta McKay says Hesquiaht Storm got a lead, the girls fought back but ran out of time and lost the game 48-38.

“They were quite upset,” said Timberwolves coach Marietta McKay. “Because they knew that game was theirs, they just had an off game.”

But McKay says Hesquiat “celebrated a little bit too much, too early, so that really fired the girls up” to come back.

But first they had to defeat Kaien Island, the B-draw winner, in the double knockout.

“That was a really good game, we were back and forth right until the last two and a half minutes,” said McKay.

Kaien Island had a narrow lead in the last few minutes of the game, partly due to foul trouble, but with a few three-pointers from Greenville’s Jewel Leeson and some key free throws they managed to take a narrow win.

They defeated Kaien Island 55-51, and then rematched Hesquiaht Storm in the finals, where they took the lead early and held on to it to claim the victory 66-57.

“They just wanted it,” said McKay. “They were a lot hungrier this tournament, because they won it last year, so they felt like they needed to come out strong.”

Besides that, Robyn Moore, Kelli Quash, and Jada Dennis were in their final year, so “their leadership really stepped up, and they kept bringing the girls into it,” said McKay.

Robyn Moore was named the tournament’s best defensive player and Kristy Innes was tournament high scorer and most valuable player. Jewel Leeson and Hailey Moore both earned all-stars.

A total of seven teams from the Nass Valley teams, one from Terrace and one from Hazelton competed in the Junior All Native Basketball Tournament in the Lower Mainland last week.

The other top contende,r besides the Greenville U17 girls, was the U17 boys Gitmidiik Storm from New Aiyansh, who claimed bronze in their division.

They too had a bye their first round, and overcame NS Wolves 76-52 and Snuneymuxw Native Sons 89-71 and Syilx 80-73 to advance to the semi-final against the Prince Rupert Tribesmen.

The game was close, but Gitmidiik lost 62-76, and took third place overall. Gitmidiik players Charles Leeson Jr. and Quinton Nisyok were both named all-stars in the U17 boys.

In U13 boys, Brock Watts was named Most Sportsmanlike Player and Joe Robinson was honoured as Most Inspirational Player. Caleb Stephens was an all-star.

In the U13 girls, Braelyn Moore and Nikki Davis earned all-stars, as well as Erin Moore of Lax’g’alts’ap.

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