A group of nine men from Yellowknife claimed this weekend’s Lights Out basketball tournament in Whitehorse, Yukon.
The team, called NWT Yellowknife, consisted of players from three teams in the Yellowknife Basketball Association.
The club went undefeated in three round-robin games, beating up on opposing teams from Whitehorse and Dawson City by an average of 15 points per game.
Yellowknife NWT even cruised in the final, beating their competition by double digits for good measure.
“We were a little tentative and nervous heading in because we thought some American teams would be coming,” said team captain Damien Healy.
“We also weren’t familiar with the rules they were using and if it’d be a combination of FIBA, NCAA and the NBA.
“But it turns out the teams from Haines, Alaska couldn’t make it because it’s fishing season for them.
“So it was a combination of local Whitehorse teams, some Dawson City teams and then us being the outside team.”
NWT Yellowknife guard Simon Markowski was named tournament MVP.
But Healy says the time relied mostly on it defensive prowess – especially since some teammates had to check opposing players as tall as 6ft 11in.
“They had big bodies. We’re not used to playing against guys that size.
“We were sitting on the bench at one point when Morgan, one of our bigs, got blocked and we looked at each other and said, ‘you don’t see that too often.’
“I think our defense really took it up a notch in the last game and we’re touch to play against when we move. Our aggressive defensive pressure really helped us.”
Last year, a team from Dawson City team won it all, prompting to Healy to say, “I think it’s time for the Whitehorse guys to win their own tournament.”
Healy is hopeful the Yukon can assemble a team of all-stars to send to Yellowknife’s Arctic Shootout tournament in the spring.
“We get sick of beating up on the same local guys in the men’s league and fresh meat is always nice.”