Hazelton women celebrate their win over Kitamaat 56-46.

Hazelton women celebrate their win over Kitamaat 56-46.

Mystics make magic at ANBT

The Hazelton Mystics become women's champs at the All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert.

The second time was the charm for the Hazelton Mystics women’s team, which won the title a year after losing in the finals by six points to Bella Bella.

This time, the ladies held off Kitamaat 56-46, two days after throwing off two-time reigning champion Bella Bella in a nailbiter.

“I’m really, really excited. Last year, we were all scared and this year, we just came and felt like it was our game,” said Taylor Wale, shooting guard for the Mystics who was named MVP of the women’s division. She scored 10 points in the final.

The story of the game was a big lead by Hazelton that evaporated, but they woke up just in time. The Mystics held a 13-point lead at halftime, 32-19, thanks to a a combination of successfully driving to the net and blocking the Kitamaat players.

But the second half was a different story. Kitamaat started off the third quarter on an 8-0 run that trimmed the lead, on the strength of better shooting percentage and fighting more for rebounds at the basket.

The rally continued in the fourth, as the Haisla team continued to push hard and Hazelton struggled to find their first-half success sinking shots. Kitamaat came within one point, and was still within three with four minutes to go, but the Mystics weren’t having any of it.

Hazelton took over for the last few minutes, and a big three from Wale helped seal the deal as the team pulled away for the ten-point win. Wale attributed the team’s win to the centres and power forwards.

“Our bigs run our whole defensive line. We run all of our offence through them. Brittany (Simpson) is just unstoppable,” Wale said.

Wale and Tamara Stoney scored 10 each for the Mystics, while Simpson added seven and Alysha O’Brien had eight. For Kitamaat, it was led by Kierra Stevens, who had 18 points and Kailee Gardiner, who scored 12.