Local team finally wins Lights Out basktball tourney

Big Bigness finally got the big win for Whitehorse over the weekend.

Big Bigness finally got the big win for Whitehorse over the weekend.

The Whitehorse team, whose name comments on the stature of its players, became the first local team to win a title at the Lights Out Yukon Invitational on Jan. 14.

“The first two years of this tournament a Whitehorse team had not won, so we were like, ‘We’re putting together an A squad this year,’” said Big Bigness player Colin LaForme. “We did it and N.W.T. didn’t bring as strong of a team — still a strong team.

“The final score wasn’t representative of that team.”

Big Bigness captured the men’s title with an 80-52 win over the Yellowknife Trappers in the final of the third annual basketball tournament at F.H. Collins Secondary.

A Dawson City team won the inaugural tournament and an N.W.T. team — with some of the same players as the Trappers — won last year.

“With adult sports you can’t always get the same guys to come out every weekend, so they probably had eight of the 12 (from last year),” said LaForme. “They were missing some of their bigger guys.”

Big Bigness went undefeated in five games for gold. The Trappers lost to Bigness and had to take the back door to the final, beating Whitehorse’s Average Joes jsut before the final.

With a couple players out with injury, for the final the Trappers picked up Average Joes’ Billy Scott, who led the team in scoring with 17 points and was named tournament MVP.

Big Bigness captain Jeremy McCulloch led his team in the final with 21 points. Will Chetcuti was second with 11, followed by LaForme with 10.

“We have quite a large team,” said LaForme. “I’ve played basketball in a lot of places and for the concentration of this town, how small it is, there are a lot of big bodies, a lot of big basketball players, which is awesome.”

This year’s Light Out tourney doubled in size from last year with 12 teams, including five playing in the new women’s division.

The Haines Merchants from Alaska went undefeated in five games for gold, defeating the Whitehorse Auroras 51-31 in the women’s final at Vanier Catholic Secondary on Jan. 14.

It marked two in a row for the Merchants, having won the women’s division of the Juneau Lions Gold Medal Basketball Tournament last March in Alaska.

“We were really excited to have another tournament to go to this year because we wanted to expand our schedule a little bit,” said Merchants captain Krista Kielsmeier.

“It was really good. We didn’t expect to be so tired; we’re really tired. The last game was pretty hard to get outside shots, that’s why we had to rely on Alisa (Beske) to get outside shots.”

Beske led in points in the final with 22 and was named the women’s tournament MVP. Haines’ Fran Daly was second on the team with 14.

Haley Digel was the top scorer for Whitehorse in the final with 11 while teammate Alcina Banks had eight.

The Merchants plan to be back to defend their title at the fourth annual tournament next year, “depending on road conditions,” said Kielsmeier.

Other Outside teams at the tournament included the Fort McPherson Wolverines and the Inuvik Huskies in the men’s division and the Yellowknife’s MB Welding Sparks in the women’s.

“It feels great now. A lot of planning goes into these things and now that it’s over it feels phenomenal,” said LaForme, who was tournament organizer. “Winning our own tournament is great because it gives it a little credit now … it builds what we’re trying to do here. Now that we finally won, that feels good. You always want to win.”

“Kilrich (Industries Ltd.) is our title sponsor and they have signed on for three years, so it’s going well, going in the right direction,” he added.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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