Ahousaht Timbermen’s single-point win scores raves at home | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Ahousaht Timbermen’s single-point win scores raves at home

Prince Rupert

A lengthy trip paid off with a championship title for the Ahousaht Timbermen. The intermediate men's (21 and under) squad captured its division at the 53rd annual Prince Rupert All Native Basketball Tournament, which concluded on Feb. 11.

The Timbermen eked out a 66-65 victory over Port Simpson in the championship final.
Ahousaht's point guard Greg Charlie Jr. sank the winning basket with a mere 1.4 seconds remaining in the contest.

“The building just exploded and I think the whole island did too,” said Timbermen coach Tom Campbell of his side's victory.

Even Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo sent a congratulatory text to the team moments following the final buzzer after watching the game via webcast.

The Prince Rupert tournament is considered one of, if not the most, prestigious Aboriginal basketball event in western Canada.

The tourney also featured senior men's, masters men's and women's divisions.

As the one-point difference would suggest, the championship final was closely contested.

“It was back and forth all game,” Campbell said. “One team would go up by two, three, four or five points and then the other team would catch up to them.”

The Timbermen endured a 16-hour ferry ride to travel to the tournament. Since there was no return ferry on the Sunday, team members drove back home, about a 15-hour journey.

Campbell said his squad was expecting to fare well in its division, which attracted 15 teams.

“We wanted to be playing on the Saturday,” he said. “Saturday is championship day.”

The Timbermen ended up playing six games during the tournament, which featured a double-knockout formula, meaning teams were eliminated after losing a pair of games.

The Ahousaht side won five of the six matches it played.

Though Campbell was confident his squad could be successful, the Timbermen were not considered a pre-tournament favorite according to the seedings, which can be described as not really helpful at best.
That's because only the Top 3 seeded teams were based on results from last year's tournament. The remaining clubs were then all simply seeded randomly by a draw.

Campbell didn't seem concerned by the rankings at all.

“When they came out I told our boys you're going to be the first Number 12 seed to win this tournament,” he said.

The Timbermen kicked off the tournament in convincing fashion, thumping Massett 101-42. The Ahousaht club then defeated top-seeded Kitimaat 90-70 in its next outing.

The Timbermen then had the next two days off. But they were certainly busy during the final two days of the tournament, playing twice on Friday and twice more on Saturday.

For starters, Ahousaht downed Vancouver 100-95 in its first game on Friday. The Timbermen were then defeated 84-78 by Port Simpson.

Ahousaht rebounded from that setback though and beat Vancouver again, 97-90 on Saturday morning. That set up the final against Port Simpson that evening. The Timbermen were able to avenge their only tournament loss by scratching out its one-point victory in the final.

The Timbermen roster at the Prince Rupert tournament featured 11 players. Campbell said the majority of the team's members have played together since they were in Grade 8.

Campbell added he was especially pleased the squad was able to win the Prince Rupert tournament as this was the final year of eligibility in the intermediate grouping for two players, centre Brett Botting and forward Tommy Paul Jr.

“I was especially happy for Tommy,” Campbell said. “These are pretty intense games they play. And he had popped out his shoulder a few times.”

Most recently Paul Jr. had dislocated his shoulder at a tournament in Ucluelet this past November. The Timbermen placed second at that event.

Campbell said Paul Jr. persevered and did his best to be ready for the Prince Rupert tournament.
“He did his rehab,” Campbell said. “And he didn't lay back. He didn't play dead.”

The Timbermen were not the only local team to enjoy success at the tournament.

The Ahousaht-based Maaqtusis Suns finished second in the senior men's division. Skidegate beat the Suns 107-81 in their final.

Also, a Nanaimo-based club called the West Coast Spirits captured top honors in the women's division, downing Kitimaat 69-47 in its final.

This club featured five Nuu-chah-nulth players. They are Hesquiaht's Heather Charleson, Mariah Charleson and Shawna Charleson, Ahousaht's Chantelle Thomas and Jeannine Adams, who is Hesquiaht/Ahousaht.

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