NABI Tournament Brings in over 100 Native American Basketball Teams
The Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) Foundation welcomed more than 100 boys and girls teams to play in the weeklong tournament, which took place July 9-13. Games were played in gyms located in Maricopa and Gila River, and the championship games for the boys and girls divisions I and II were held at the Talking Stick Resort Arena on Saturday, July 14.
Teams traveled from all over the United States to attend; some came from as far away as New Zealand and Canada to compete in the tournament. The NABI Foundation kicked off the tournament with a team check-in and a College and Career Fair for all participating youth. There were also educational seminars, and a meet-and-greet party was open throughout the week for all participants.
In Girls Division I, the NN Elite (Navajo) beat Yakama Nation of Washington State by 5 points for the championship title, with a final score of 44-49. The girls Division II champions were the SW Heat-KTYSP team from Carnegie, Oklahoma, who beat the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Wakolim U’Uwi, 29-58.
The Fort McDowell team and Savage Storm of Okeechobee, Florida, went head to head in the championship game. Fort McDowell fell short by 4 points, losing to Savage Storm 65-69 and making Savage Storm the Division I champion. The boys Division II champions were Team Indigenous of Shawnee, Oklahoma, who beat the Otoe-Ascend team of Red Rock, Oklahoma, 78-60.
NABI GAMES: Gila River
The Gila River girls team mostly consisted of members of the Gila River Indian Community, but two Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members, Victoria Maynard and Lynnyice Carlisle, also played on the team. The team’s record in the NABI games was 0-4.
“This is my first year playing in the NABI tournament. Although we lost all four of our games, we did good,” said Maynard. “We just faced a lot of hard teams, but I look forward to coming back next year and I hope to improve on my dribbling.”
This is a whole new team, with only one girl remaining from the old team. The girls are young and new but they played well together, explained Gila River Coach Ron Paul.
On Monday, July 9, the Gila River girls’ first game was against CC Lady Gunz; Gila River lost 8-90. In their second game of that day, they lost against Team Flight, 31-42. On Tuesday, July 10, Gila River lost to the T.O. Storm by 6 points, with a final score of 17-23. On the first bracket game on Thursday, July 12, Gila River went up against Mahpiyaluta, losing 92-24. The loss to Mahpiyaluta knocked the girls off the bracket, eliminating their chance at the championship game.
NABI GAMES: Ak-Chin
The Ak-Chin girls team played in Division II and consisted of O’odham, Maricopa and Navajo players. Community member Daycee Achin participated with the Ak-Chin team. The team’s record throughout tournament was 1-3.
On Monday, July 9, Ak-Chin defeated the NVDreamChasers, 35-64. On Tuesday, July 10, Ak-Chin played two games; they posted a loss to Wakolim U’Uwi, 41-38, and then lost by only 1 point in overtime to Lady Xers, 34-33. Their final game on Thursday, July 12, was a loss to Wmat Rez Girls, 49-36.
NABI GAMES: Run N Gun
The Run-N-Gun girls basketball team consisted of members of the Navajo, O’odham and Sioux tribes. Coach Ephraim Sloan is an employee of the SRPMIC Recreation Department, and Community member Juilanne Carlisle participated on the team. Carlisle and her sister, who played with the Gila River team, didn’t get to finish out the tournament, because they were traveling to Las Vegas for another basketball tournament with their Saguaro High School team. The team’s record in the NABI games was 4-2.
On Monday, July 9, Run-N-Gun defeated UNITY, 38-45, in their first game of NABI pool play. In their second game of the day, Run-N-Gun lost to 24/7 Hoops with a score of 49-39. On Tuesday, July 10, Run-N-Gun went head to head with Chizzy Knees in a close game, beating Chizzy Knees by 2 points, 50-52.
In their first bracket game on Thursday, July 12, Run-N-Gun played Lady Xtreme, winning 41-56. The win moved the girls on to the next bracket, where they played against the AZ Lady Warriors. On Friday, July 13, Run-N-Gun went up against two teams, the AZ Lady Warriors and Yakama Nation. Run-N-Gun beat AZ Lady Warriors by 6 points, with a final score of 44-50. Ultimately, Run-N-Gun was eliminated from the tournament by the Yakama Nation, 74-53.
NABI GAMES: AZ Lady Warriors and AZ Warriors
Youth from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community participated in the 16th annual games, playing for the AZ Warriors and AZ Lady Warriors teams.
Throughout the games, the AZ Warriors dominated their opponents. The Lady Warriors went far as well, winning throughout the week. But while both teams won most of their games, they did not make it to the championship games.
SRPMIC members Delano Watson and Eric Makil played for the AZ Warriors. Community members Maggie Makil, Justine Cooper and Desiree Pacheco played for the AZ Lady Warriors.