The Gitanmaax Elite are ready for the ANT.

Four Gitxsan teams compete in 54th annual All Native tourney

The 54th annual All Native Basketball Tournament began last Sunday and four teams from the Hazelton area were involved.

The 54th annual All Native Basketball Tournament began last Sunday and four teams are involved: Ladie’s and Men’s from Kispiox, Men’s from Gitanyow and Intermediate from Gitanmaax (Hazelton).

The Kispiox men played Aiyansh in their first game last Sunday.

Head coach Mel Wright Sr. said he’s looking forward to see what his team can accomplish in the tourney.

“We have a really young team compared to other men’s teams,” Wright said.

“We have a few who’ve never played in the men’s division before.

“As long as we stay out of foul trouble and play our game we’ll do well.”

Wright, who is a referee, reminds his team about one more aspect of the game.

“Whatever the ref calls we have to keep our comments to ourselves,” he said.

“They won’t change their minds after the fact.”

The Kispiox men lost their first game 75-60 against New Aiyansh.

Starting point guard Jesse Olson said his team just couldn’t hold onto the ball when it mattered.

“We had some turnovers that gave them some easy baskets,” Olson said.

The Kispiox men faced Terrace on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.

The Kispiox women were set to face Vancouver at 8 a.m. last Monday.

The women’s team is very accustomed to playing together and have the boost of a returning player who had medical complications last year and couldn’t play.

“I’m just lucky to be here,” Tamara Stoney, who also coaches at Hazelton secondary, said.

The men’s team from Gitanyow also faced a team from Vancouver in their first game and lost 82-41.

Isaac Rush, first-year coach, was very proud of his team being in the tournament.

The last time players from Gitanyow were in the All Native tournament was more than 40 years ago.

“We have a good team this year,” Rush said, but he also knows they lack experience.

“Being our first year we just want to build up our players so they know what to expect in years to come.”

Lastly, the intermediate team from Gitanmaax faced Skidegate in their first game on Monday.

Skidegate is usually playing late in to the week in all divisions.

Gitanmaax is coached by Marty Smith, a former player in the tournament.

Marty’s son Travis leads the team and is confident heading into the tournament.

“I think we’ll win,” Travis said, when asked about how his team will fare against Skidegate.

“It all depends on how quick we come out.”

The All Native Basketball Tournament goes from Feb. 10 to Feb. 16.

Most games are at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, but there are also games at Charles Hays secondary school as well.

For more information on the tournament visit anbt.ca.

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