Sports & Recreation

Gila River Chiefs play against team Alaska at the Pi-Copa gym on the second day of games for the boys division.

Eighth Annual NABI Tournament Comes to the Valley

By Richie Corrales
Au-Authm Action News

About 70 Native American youth basketball teams, in both boys’ and girls’ divisions, traveled to the Valley of the Sun to compete in the 2010 Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) July 6–10. Games took place at locations throughout the Valley, including on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Unfortunately, there were no teams from the Community participating in the Rez Ball event; however, there were Community members playing on different teams in the tournament. For example, the Lady Warriors girls team, which was coached by Salt River High School’s Shawn Lytle, included several players from the Community.

Play began at 8 a.m. each day, and some evening games didn’t end until 9 p.m. The championship game was played at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

NABI is the largest all–Native American high school basketball tournament in the United States. The NABI Foundation provides scholarships to help Native American youth further their education, and also funds college mentor programs.

Unknown Hoops won the championship game in the girls division against Oklahoma Ndn’s 57-36.

On the boys side Cheyenne Arapaho would beat Hoopa Wolf Pack 60-49 in the boys division.

Community Member Plays for Wildcats

On the first day of the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI), 17-year-old Samuel Hardy, a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, played his best at point guard for the Wildcats team out of St. Michaels, defeating the Diné Warwolves. At a staggering height of 6’1”, Hardy fouled with 25.6 seconds left on the clock. He scored two of the last points in the game, making the final score 41-45 in favor of the Wildcats.

This was Hardy’s fourth year playing in the NABI; although he is a senior, this will not be his last year because he is going to play in the NABI right after high school next year.

Samuel’s mom and dad, Brenda and Sam Hardy, are very much involved in their son’s pursuit of basketball. Sam Hardy was the Wildcats’ assistant coach this year, and Brenda tries her best to keep the team going with yard sales and enchilada sales to assist the families with travel expenses.

Brenda has been her son’s biggest fan since Samuel first started playing basketball at age 9.

Gila River at Height Disadvantage Against Alaska

In the Native American Basketball Invitational tournament (NABI) in the boys bracket, Alaska played against Gila River’s Chiefs at the Pi-Copa Gym on July 8.

It took the Alaska team 22 hours to get to the Valley, said head coach Steve Craft, leaving their 50-degree weather for the 110-degree oven here in Phoenix. To play in the tournament the team held fundraisers in their villages back home, located in the southwestern part of Alaska.

“I think this is a great tournament for all the kids. This is the second game we played in so far, and the team is trying to get used to the heat over here,” said Craft.

In the first few minutes of the game Alaska got ahead of the Chiefs 11-6, but it remained that way only for a short period of time until the Chiefs used their speed and skill to get around their much taller opponents. The Chiefs caught up to Alaska and occasionally tied up the score. This back-and-forth continued throughout most of the game.

After halftime, both teams tried not to show the signs of fatigue. The players still fought for the ball, and soon the scoreboard read 73-71 with Alaska ahead. Then the Chiefs went on a run, scoring several points. At the end of the game the score were tied, so that triggered a two-minute overtime, followed by another two minutes, until finally Alaska scored five points back to back and the Chiefs gave in. The score was 93-88.

NABI White Swan vs. Navajo Nation’s Dirt Road Ballerz

During the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI), Dirt Road Ballerz, a Navajo Nation team, played against White Swan of Yakama Nation, Washington, at Salt River High School on July 8.

The White Swan boys team missed last year’s NABI tournament, and this year they saved their money and held numerous fundraisers for six months to get to Arizona.

“We hosted car washes, spaghetti feasts and other fundraisers so we would be able to participate this year,” said coach Ryan Spencer. “We also got tribal donations as well.”

The coach said he and his team are still getting used to the Southwestern style of basketball, also known as “Rez ball.”

“We let our defense create our offense,” said Spencer. “I like to call it ‘live and die.’ We are used to playing man-to-man basketball, and here they play a lot of zone-defense ball. It is going to take a while for the team to get used to the game.”

White Swan won their second game against Dirt Road Ballerz, 86-50. Their record for that Thursday was 2-0, and the record of the Dirt Road Ballerz was 1-1.


Arizona North Stars Win with Defensive Presence and Pull-Up Jumpers

On the second day of competition in the Native American Basketball Invitational, the Black Cats from Coulee Dam, Washington took on the North Stars from Chinle. It was fast paced from the start, with a flurry of fast-break points. The North Stars had the size at the center position, which they used to pull down rebounds and execute their inside game.

Shirley Ramos of the Black Cats put away the first three-point shot of the game.

Ramos picked up the momentum for her team after a steal on the next possession, getting her to the line. But Nicole Tsosie hit an outside jumper and tied the game 14-14.

Tsosie continued dominating for her team, putting her body in between the basket and her opponents to pull down boards and getting involved on the defensive end as well.

The North Stars began to pull away at the half and led 29-20. The North Star team scored five unanswered points and only gave up points on a foul, which sent Ramos to the line for the Black Cats.

With 10 minutes left in the game, the North Stars brought in their second unit, which continued to push and create more offense for the 57-34 win over the Black Cats.

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