Coach Vanessa Belcourt preparing the girls to run a drill.

Rhonda Lee McIsaac —

The All Native Basketball Tournament Committee has picked the 2017 Hall of Famers. The committee will be honouring four players and one coach. Players Tracy Cochrane (Prince Rupert) and Deanna Smith Gray (Haisla) from the Women’s Division, and Ellis Ross (Haisla) with team mate Wes Nyce (Haisla) from the Mens. Haida coach, Arnie Bellis, will also be honoured for his contribution to many championship teams.

While the Hall of Famers are gathering accolades, the up and coming players and coaches are gearing up for a busy basketball season on- and off-Island.

The Islands’ teams will all be vying for cheers and dollars as they practice, play, and fundraiser for the upcoming series of tournaments.

Old Massett has a ladies’ team, a mens’ Intermediate, a seniors and masters team, and an under-13 Boys team.

The Old Massett Junior Girls are also busy practicing for their next games.

“Our team was so young last year that we didn’t lose any players this year due to age, so they’re gelling great. If they train hard, I think they’ll do some damage at the Junior All Native,” explained coach, Vanessa Belcourt.

The Old Massett Jr Girls team has been practicing since September and already has one win under their belt against the Skidegate Jr. Girls. Belcourt is looking for more scrimmages throughout the winter to hone skills.

The Skidegate Saints Junior Girls will be heading to Kitimat on November 17, 18, 19 for the Second Annual Allister Nyce Memorial Basketball Tournament and are fundraising at the HlGaagilda Coop.

Jr. Girls coach, Gidin Jaad Erica Ryan-Gagne sees the Kitimat tournament as a positive environment.

“Our team is a family. I want the girls to remember not to be too hard on themselves and to have fun in life, in sport, in school and in our connections and relationships,” she states. Gidin Jaad says she looks forward to the relationship-building and educational aspects of the role, modeling positive behavior and empowerment messages.

The Skidegate Senior Saints are busy fundraising and holding practices for the players. They will be hosting the Saints’ Invitational in December.

The Skidegate Masters Saints have dusted off their high tops after a long absence and are firming up their roster for this year’s team. They will be fundraising for a qualifying tournament in Prince Rupert on November 22, 23, 24, 25, which will take them to the All Native Basketball Tournament in February 2018.

In HlGaagilda, the hugely successful First Annual Jaylund M.W. Russ Memorial Basketball Tournament took place in early October and saw ten teams coming out to support the tournament and honour the life of a young man who was a great community supporter and basketball lover. The Skidegate Sr Saints were the champions of this inaugural tournament.

Other upcoming tournaments include the Nathan Young Memorial Basketball Tournament November 9, 10, 11 in HlGaagilda; the Saints Invitational will be held in December and the Christmas Classic will take place between Christmas to New Year’s Eve.

All the tournaments will help players and coaches plan for the All Native Basketball Tournament being held in February at Prince Rupert.

The Jr All Native Basketball Tournament will take place in North Vancouver from March 18 to 23 and will go to 24, if needed.


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