Haida Gwaii GKNS Breakers win spot in provincial basketball tourney
The Gidgalang Kuuyas Naay Secondary (GKNS) School senior boys basketball team is on their way to Langley for provincials from March 8 to 11.
The Breakers qualified for the championship after beating the Bulkley Valley Christian Royals 61-58 in the tournament, held in Smithers on Feb. 25 and 25.
It was a nail-biting final during the Northwest zone “A” senior tournament, Colin Greenough, school representative for the team, told the Haida Gwaii Observer.
To reach the finals, the GKNS Breakers first played and beat their archipelago rivals, the Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary School senior boys.
Point guard Levi Burton is the Breaker’s leader on the floor, Greenough said. Burton had another all-around good game during the Northwest zone final, he added.
However, some foul trouble for the team made for an exciting second half.
At the beginning of the third quarter, two of the Breakers’ biggest players had each racked up four fouls. Since players are only allowed five fouls per game, the team made the choice to sit the two players during the third quarter and substitute in bench players — athletes who are not normally starting players.
“Our bench came through for us and we were able to hold onto our lead in the third quarter,” Greenough said.
Despite a big push by the Royals in the fourth quarter, the Breakers were able to keep their lead until the end he added.
“It was a good, exciting game.”
Greenough attributes the team’s success to the effort and expertise of their coaches, namely Desi Collinson, Gaagwiis (Jason Alsop) and Duane Alsop.
“They bring a championship pedigree with them and a championship culture,” he said.
All three coaches are players on the senior men’s Skidegate Saints team, which came first at the 2023 All Native Basketball tournament earlier this month.
One of the announcers at the All Native [Basketball Tournament] called Haida Gwaii a “basketball factory”, Greenough said, agreeing with the comment.
“The Skidegate Saints are kind of an institution and year after year they continue to put out an excellent product,” he said.
While the high school team officially practices a couple of times a week, many of the students get extra time playing at George Brown Recreation Centre in Skidegate.
“They run some drills and stuff like that [and play] pick-up games against the senior team or whoever they have, whoever shows up at the gym. There’s always basketball going on, every night, down at the George Brown [Recreation Centre].”
Greenough said the team is looking forward to the challenge of the provincials.
“… the kids are excited and we’ve got a good group of supporters going down with them,” he said.
However, the team is looking for financial support.
It will cost more than $30,000 for the team to attend the championships in Langley, Greenough estimated.
Members of the public can make a donation to the team by calling Colin Greenough at GKNS at 250-559-8822.
Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View