A player from Big Bigness makes a two point basket in the final seconds of the last quarter of the annual Lights Out basketball tournament to give his team the win on Jan. 20. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Fourth annual Lights Out Yukon Invitational basketball tournament a slam dunk

Men’s final hinges on missed layup as time expires

The fourth annual Lights Out Yukon Invitational basketball tournament was held in Whitehorse from Jan. 18 to 20.

Six women’s teams and seven men’s teams took part in the tournament, including a men’s side from Dawson City and a women’s side from Haines, Alaska.

A busy weekend of basketball culminated in a pair of final games at Porter Creek Secondary School.

The men’s final was a nail-biter, and in a thoroughly entertaining game, Big Bigness beat 40 Below at the buzzer 61-59.

The game started evenly, with 40 Below ahead by the slimmest of margins, 15-14, after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Big Bigness put their stamp on the game by jumping out to a nine-point lead, 33-24, by halftime.

Whatever was discussed by 40 Below during the break seemed to work, and a 23-14 run in the first 8:21 of the third quarter meant the score was all square again at 47-47.

Having lost the lead, Big Bigness called a timeout to disrupt their opponent’s momentum. It seemed to work, and Big Bigness hung on to keep a 51-49 lead at the end of three.

The fourth quarter, which included some inadvertent bloodshed, was close from start to finish.

With 36.3 seconds left in the game, Big Bigness was up 59-56 and had possession of the ball.

After the inbound, 40 Below forced a defensive stop and moved back down the floor in transition and a three-pointer from the wing tied the game up, albeit briefly.

Big Bigness quickly pushed the ball back down the court to score an uncontested layup with 6.7 seconds left and a two-point lead.

Following a timeout, 40 Below tried to create an open look in the corner for a three to win it outright, but tight defense made that impossible. A quick pass inside gave 40 Below a chance at a buzzer-beater, but the layup was off the mark.

In the women’s final, the Haines Merchants handily defeated the Black Mambas 53-36 despite being down to just six players for the final game.

The Black Mambas tried to press at times during the second half with some success, but despite a longer bench seemed unable to consistently pressure the backcourt for the Merchants.

Lianne Fordham, one of the tournament organizers, said the tournament was a success.

“We had more teams join this year than last year and we had more community involvement through sponsors,” said Fordham.

The plan for next year is to include teams from Juneau, Yellowknife and Inuvik. This year, teams from Yellowknife and Inuvik both dropped out at the last minute, but the addition of an Arctic Winter Games boys team and a sixth women’s team helped keep things competitive, said Fordham.

The Whitehorse Women’s Basketball League and the Yukon Men’s Basketball League co-hosted the event.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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