Bella Bella boys are coming to the Junior All Natives for the win | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Bella Bella boys are coming to the Junior All Natives for the win

Bella Bella

There's only one reason why coach Gord Gladstone is bringing his junior boys' basketball team from Bella Bella to Port Alberni next month.

"We've trained so hard," Gladstone said. "We expect nothing less than a championship."

Gladstone's team, from the Heiltsuk Nation, is one of 50 squads expected to compete at the British Columbia Junior All Native Basketball Championship Tournament.

The provincial tournament, featuring players 17 and under, is scheduled for March 18 to March 23. Organizers are hoping both the boys and girls divisions will each feature about 25 entries.

The Bella Bella boys' team placed sixth at last year's championship, which was staged in Penticton.

"Our team is totally revamped from last year," said Gladstone, who has taken over the team's coaching duties. The club has just three returning players.

Besides coaching the Bella Bella squad that will compete in Port Alberni, Gladstone is also the coach of the Bella Bella Community School team that participates in the British Columbia High School Boys Basketball Association.

Bella Bella, which is sporting an over-all record of 11-2 this season, is currently ranked eighth in the province for Single A teams.

Bella Bella's results include a second-place finish at an eight-team tournament that was staged in Vancouver in late January.

Nine of the players who toil for Gladstone's high school team will be on the Bella Bella squad at the provincials in Port Alberni.

The team has been practising together since September.

"They've come together a lot," Gladstone said of his players. "And when we lost that tournament they knew we had to train a little bit harder."

Two of Gladstone's nephews are expected to play key roles with the Bella Bella team at the provincials.

Though he's only in Grade 9, Gary Gladstone, a point guard, is already one of the captains of his high school team. In his first four regular season high school contests this 14-year-old, who is 5-foot-10, was averaging a whopping 32 points per game.

Another player expected to star for the Bella Bella team in Port Alberni is Jordan Gladstone, who is already 6-feet tall even though he is just 12.

"He doesn't play like a 12-year-old," said Gord Gladstone. "And he can touch the rim (on the basket) now even though he's only 12."

Since he is only in Grade 7, however, Jordan Gladstone is not eligible to play for the Bella Bella high school team.

And yet another individual expected to play a key role for the Bella Bell side at the provincials is shooting guard Graylon Martin. Though he's from the Heiltsuk Nation, Martin is currently starring with the Mount Doug Rams in Victoria, a club that is ranked ninth provincially among AAA teams.

Coach Gladstone does not think he is putting any pressure on his players by stating they will be heading to Port Alberni with only one goall—to win the tournament.

"They know what we're going for," he said.

Gladstone also believes others are starting to take notice of his team because of their results against high school opponents.

"I think they know who we are now," he said of opposing clubs. "Lots of players come out to watch our games, especially when we played in Vancouver. There were a lot of kids there watching. I'm assuming lots of them are kids from other teams."

To arrive in Port Alberni, members of the Bella Bella squad will require an eight-hour ferry ride followed by a five-hour car trip.

Three facilities will be used for games at the provincials. Matches will be held at Alberni District Secondary School, Alberni Athletic Hall and Maht Mahs Gym.

Ha-Shilth-Sa will be webcasting the games staged at the Athletic Hall at www.hashilthsa.comand a test of our webcast production team will be conducted during the Island Zones final day’s games on Feb. 19, so tune in to watch that action.

The Junior All Native Basketball Championship Committee is actively seeking volunteers for the March 18 to March 23 tourney. The volunteer registration form can be found at

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