The Hesquiaht Storm came up a bit shy in its quest for a championship win at the Junior All-Native Basketball Tournament.
The girls’ under-17 squad had to settle for the silver medal at the tournament, which featured entrants from across British Columbia. The Hesquiaht side emerged victorious in four out of the five matches it played at the tournament but was downed 66-57 by the Greenville Timberwolves in its championship final this past Friday (March 23).
A total of 83 teams competed at the tournament, which was held in Vancouver. The girls’ under-17 category featured 23 entrants.
A boys’ under-17 division was also staged. And there were under-13 groupings, for both girls and boys.
The Storm was the only Nuu-chah-nulth club to return home with a medal.
The Hesquiaht squad had placed third at the 2017 Junior All-Native tourney held in Kelowna.
“We wanted to have some improvement from last year,” said Storm coach Geno John. “So we were pleased with our finish this time.”
But no doubt John and his players will be thinking about how their silver medals could have been gold.
That’s because the Storm did defeat the Timberwolves 48-38 one day before its championship final.
John said the Timberwolves stepped up their game from the previous day once they qualified for the final.
“They had more outside shooting from the three-point range,” he said. “One girl really beat us with her three-point shots.”
Leading the way for the Timberwolves was Kristy Innes, who was not only the tournament’s top scorer but was also selected as the most valuable player. John said his charges did make some changes to try to contain Innes. But it was a case of too little, too late.
“It was just a matter of switching our defence from man-to-man to zone coverage,” he said. “We did that at the beginning of the fourth quarter. They were leading by 25 points and we managed to cut it down to nine points.”
Greenville successfully defended its tournament title as it had also captured last year’s event. A year ago the Timberwolves beat the Storm by 42 points in their semi-final meeting.
Besides winning silver medals, some members of the Storm were also singled out for their efforts at the conclusion of this year’s event. Destiny Hanson and Jada Touchie were both named to the tournament all-star team. Also, Memphis Dick captured the Miss Hustle Award while Jill Jeffery was presented with the 6th Woman Award.
Besides beating the Timberwolves in a Thursday match, the Storm also won its three previous matches en route to the championship final. For starters, Hesquiaht squeaked out a 63-62 victory over Prince Rupert’s Kaien Island. The Storm then downed the Skidegate Saints 59-23. And then in its third outing Hesquiaht beat one of the tournament co-hosts, Vancity, 69-45.
Besides Hanson, Touchie and Dick, the Storm roster this season included five other returnees. They were
John’s daughter Dalainee, Babae Williams, Tamia Edgar, Juniper John and Shauntelle Dick-Charleson.
Jeffery was one of the four newcomers to the squad. Others who joined the team this season were sisters Eta and Sereana Kaloucokovale and Jacine Charleson.
Lila Charleson served as the club’s manager. Also, the team’s assistant coach was Tyson Touchie, Jada’s father. Touchie’s other daughter Jaysen was an alternate on the club.