Winning back-to-back titles was amazing and special for Syilx guard Ashley McGinnis.
After defending their Junior All Native basketball tournament championship by defeating At’maakw 63-42 on Friday at Pen High Secondary, McGinnis said the victorious feeling was amazing as many of the players dealt with trying seasons.
The Sylix Nation girls basketball team defended their Junior All Native basketball tournament championship on Friday.
“We blew every other team out until we got to Bella Coola,” said McGinnis, who dedicated the win to her late father. “We beat them by 40 yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday) it was a lot harder. They made us work for this win.”
McGinnis, who captained the Syilx to a second title, led with 26 points, drowning seven from three-point range. Last year’s tournament Most Valuable Player, Jade Montgomery-Waardenburg, finished with eight points and Jasmine Montgomery-Reid scored 12.
The Syilx captain, who attends school in Oliver, said the team was flustered and weren’t playing their game. The At’maakw girls were running and the Syilx game is setting the plays, calming down and McGinnis said they were just playing the opposition’s game for a bit. Words from coaches Amanda Montgomery and Peter Waardenburg helped them stay composed.
“They came in a little bit more composed today (Friday), we talked about really running the ball and pushing the ball and defensively not reaching,” said Montgomery. “I think the final game at any point is stressful especially with this type of crowd, so it took a lot to get them settled down into their roles but they executed them really well.”
McGinnis said the strength of the Syilx was in pushing the ball and making the opposition tired since they played more games, including one on Friday morning. Giving the Syilx a push was a large crowd on hand that made McGinnis proud to represent her nation.
“I am so happy they all came,” said McGinnis.
Montgomery described McGinnis as an excellent player and plays great school ball so when McGinnis played in the week-long tournament, coach expectations were high and she excelled.
“She doesn’t let the intensity of the game get her down and she works hard for those points,” said Montgomery. “I’m just really proud of the girls and their commitment to the team to bring home the championship and represent their Nation.”
On the boys side, Sylix had a tough battle from the Homiss Wolves, eventually losing 66-55 after nearly tying the game several times.
For video of the final, go to www.pentictonwesternnews.com.