Both players and fans were full of spirit at the Hitaçu Hoops Championships last weekend.
Getting back on the court is a huge win since Covid, and everyone brought the energy.
Basketball is a huge part of the west coast culture in the area, and event volunteer Savannah Rose spoke to The Westerly about how the event “woke up” the community in Ucluelet and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ territory.
“The support has been unreal. It’s really cool to see everybody come together, especially after COVID-19. It feels uplifting.”
The event garnered rapid interest, with 22 teams signing up to compete.
The action was split into four divisions, with the Under-17, Adult, Under-13 and Women’s teams filling both Hitaçu’s Cixwatin Centre and Ucluelet Secondary School’s gym.
Everyone loves a good underdog win, and the Port Alberni Armada provided the script, winning the U-17 crown. It was a surprising victory because they didn’t even have a coach.
“We all play on the school team together, but we didn’t find a coach, so we just came down by ourselves,” explained team-member Brooklyn Doiron, 17
The finals were wild, with his squad coming from behind to narrowly defeat Quuʔušinmit 83-80.
“It was a great game. The intensity was really crazy. We all played good and came out with a W,” he said.
Armada player Jaidin Knighton, 15, told the Westerly that playing in the Cixwatin Centre was amazing both for the volunteers who put together the event and the crowd’s excitement.
“It was crazy. It was wild and a great experience,” she said. “When the fans are going crazy it gets a little chaotic, but it was really nice. I like this.”
Other highlights included upcoming star Kanani Coon, 17, winning Most Valuable Player, Best Offensive Player and Best Defensive Player.
“It’s always such a good experience to see all your people come together and support each other no matter what,” she told reporter Andrew Bailey. “I was excited to come here. It’s a beautiful place, and I love the people.”
Tofino’s team, the Tofino Wednesdays, played in the men’s division and made it all the way to the finals, where they lost to the Nanaimo Misfits.
Tofino player Bobby Lax told the Westerly the event was amazing
“We’re just so grateful to the community of Hitaçu and the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ
“They really opened it up so that anyone who wanted to come play could and to get the basketball community out here. They made it possible for us all to get engaged…Just ‘hats off’ to them and a huge thank you for the work that went in.”