The men’s division final of the Arctic Shoot-Out basketball tournament proved that Yellowknife doesn’t always win everything.
It also proved that the NWT doesn’t win everything on its home soil, either.
Fort Simpson took on Cambridge Bay in the deciding game on May 13 and it would be the boys from Nunavut that walked away with the title thanks to an 86-71 win. It was a tough loss for Fort Simpson as they went undefeated in the round-robin and came through a tough semifinal against the ’95 All Stars from Yellowknife, 85-80, to get to the final.
Lana Bromley, the tournament’s organizer, said it was close until the late game.
“I heard from the Fort Simpson players that Cambridge Bay was the fitter team,” she said. “They’ve been coming here for so many years and they spend all that money to get here so it was nice to see them win it.”
This was the first time the men’s final featured two non-Yellowknife teams in quite a while, which was music to the eyes of Damien Healy, Basketball NWT’s president.
“I love seeing the community teams come and stick it to Yellowknife,” he said. “I love that they travel to come and play and they fundraise a lot to get here so seeing them win is always refreshing.”
Fort Simpson had some out-of-town help with players from Fort Nelson and Fort St. John, B.C. on their roster. Dan Penner, one of the Fort St. John players, was a force to be reckoned with all weekend and certainly helped Fort Simpson get as far as they did. He didn’t get to finish the final, though, as he went down with an ankle injury near the end of the first quarter.
“That really opened it up for Cambridge Bay and I think they took full advantage of that,” said Bromley.
As for the last time two non-capital teams played for the big prize, you’d have to go back a long way and even Healy can’t remember.
“I’ve been playing in this for a long time and the best guess I would have is back in the day when the tournament had tiers,” he said. “We had professionals coming in from places like Calgary and even Detroit. That’s probably the last time it would have happened but not recently.”
The women’s final was an all-Yellowknife affair as the Kitties defeated the Funky Bunch, 65-43, in a rubber match of sorts. The Kitties and the Funky Bunch met in the final for the third consecutive year. The Funky Bunch won two years ago, followed by the Kitties winning last year and it was the Kitties who ended up on top again, successfully defending their title with a sizable win.