Five local teams took to the court to compete in the inaugural Junior NBA basketball tournament at John Arnalukjuak High School (JAHS) in Arviat from Feb. 28 to March 1.

The Nanuqs of the North defeated Team Mamba to claim the event’s first championship banner.

The inaugural Jr. NBA basketball champion Nanuqs of the North are, from left, Sammie Arnalak , Johnny Kaviok Jr., Adam Ahmak, Ben Manik, Phillip Hakuluk and Brandon Kinak in Arviat on March 1. Photo courtesy of Ryan Barbeau

There were 15 games played, as well as a three-point contest that headlined the events on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Basketball coach and local teacher Ryan Barbeau organized the event and said the tournament was well received by the community.

He said there was plenty of excitement in the JAHS gym during both the semi-final and championship matches.

“The gym was filled with parents, girlfriends, friends and community members throughout the weekend,” said Barbeau.

“It was an incredible atmosphere and I know that each and every participant appreciated the support they received.

“We want to involve teams from other parts of Arviat during our next tournament.

“And, both Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet have expressed interest in sending teams to it as well, so, hopefully we can continue to expand and grow these types of events here in Arviat.”

Cody Pitseloak was the winner of the three-point competition, while tournament MVP honours went to the top team’s captain, Ben Manik.

Named to the tournament’s all-star squad were Donald Baker Spence, Donald Suluk, Ben Manik, Cody Pitseolak and Adam Ahmak.

Barbeau said the tournament grew fairly competitive as the weekend progressed.

He said three of the event’s five teams were actually built to be quite strong.

“The final was only a 10-point game at 62-52, while the semi-final between Team Mamba and our high school team went down to the wire with Team Mamba taking the game by four points.

“Overall, the tournament was definitely about the environment, the fun of playing and competing and getting the community out to watch, but it definitely was also competitive.”

Barbeau said he sees the game of basketball continuing to grow in Arviat.

JAHS principal Don Peters also sees the game of basketball growing more popular in Arviat.

He said he speaks on behalf of JAHS staff and students when he says it was their pleasure to contribute to the further development of basketball in Arviat.

The tournament was a chance for our local athletes to come together to showcase their skills in front of friends and family,” said Peters.

“A big thank you going out to Ryan Barbeau and his staff of middle school students for making this event possible”

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