Tseshaht Pride, a team of mainly under-17 youth, fought for first place against the Hesquiaht Descendants in the final game of the women’s division in AV Thunder’s basketball tournament, placing second overall.
“I'd say it's a bit different going to a tournament and playing people my age and then going against women,” said Natalie Clappis, a player on Tseshaht Pride. “A lot of people are a lot older than us. It's more challenging, but I like the challenge, it's fun.”
“It was really different coming from a junior level because I'm only in Grade 11,” said Genaveve Pierre, another player on Tseshaht Pride. “Coming up from Grade 11, playing against tougher, stronger women who know what they're doing [and are] more experienced than I am. I felt that was more challenging.”
But for Tseshaht Pride, a team of primarily U17 girls, with a couple U19 players, this was not the first women’s tournament they played in. In August they played their first tournament of the season in a women’s division.
“For their junior ranks, U17, there isn't anybody else on the Island for them to play,” said Joe Charleson, coach for Tseshaht Pride. “They're proving that they belong in the division.”
For both Clappis and Pierre they were surprised they placed second in the women’s division.
“Halfway through the game I realized… we are playing for first and second place,” said Clappis.
“I feel like, my first game we all played kind of shy [and] scared because we're playing against older women then throughout the rest of the tournament, we got used to it,” said Pierre. “[What] I was most proud of is that I really stepped up during the next few games.”
“I feel like we played a lot better this game compared to our first game,” Clappis added.
“They're playing with a lot more adversity,” said Charleson. “They may be a U17 group, but they're playing like a ladies team.”
“They're putting their team name on the map,” Charleson added.
For the Hesquiaht Descendants, who took home the women’s division win, this was their first time playing together.
“We all worked well really fast,” said Destiny Hanson, who plays shooting guard. “It looked like we'd been playing for years.”
“The girls played extremely hard in the final game today, even though they were dealing with a loss of a family member,” said John White, coach for the Hesquiaht Descendants. “They played hard for a win for that family member.”
Mariah Charleson, captain of Hesquiaht Descendants, started the squad about eight years ago and said it’s the strongest she’s seen the team since.
“They all know how to play the game and they all move the ball and incorporate themselves into position,” said White.
“Nothing but talented players to build on momentum to go to All Native [basketball tournament],” said John.