The Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake Campus gym was jam packed to the rafters Sunday for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Junior All Native Basketball Tournament.
Teams entered the gym to massive applause, followed by traditional songs and speeches from dignitaries including Tribal Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government Joe Alphonse, Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, elder Virginia Gilbert and Williams Lake Indian Band councillor Willie Sellars.
Thirty-eight teams (21 girls teams and 17 boys teams) featuring players ages 13 to 17 will be competing at the provincial event with games taking place at Lake City Secondary Williams Lake Campus, LCSS Columneetza Campus and the Thompson Rivers University gymnasium.
Organizer Roger Harris said teams are travelling from Bella Coola, Northern B.C., Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Thompson Okanagan and everywhere in between.
“It’s been going on for more than 20 years now,” Harris said of the tournament’s legacy. “We’ll have lots of talent on display and we’re bringing in some vendors [from Williams Lake] and other communities. And, we’ll have great food.”
Games began today, March 14, where 21 games will take place, followed by another 21 games on Tuesday. Knockout games will begin Wednesday until the tournament final on Friday, March 18 at the LCSS Williams Lake Campus.
Harris said a youth dance will take place Wednesday evening at TRU, along with a cultural night Tuesday at Sugar Cane.
“We just hope people will come out and enjoy the games, enjoy the food and come support the youth,” he said.
Weekly tournament passes will be available, along with single game passes. Admission will be free to anyone 65 and over or six and under.
For more information check the tournament’s Facebook page at “Junior All Native Basketball Tournament 2016.”