Kristy Innes throws up a three in an early match against Maaqtusiis Thunder from Ahousaht at the Junior All Native March 18-23. (Contributed photo)

Kristy Innes throws up a three in an early match against Maaqtusiis Thunder from Ahousaht at the Junior All Native March 18-23. (Contributed photo)

Greenville basketball stars honoured at Junior All Native

Nisga'a players Kristy Innes and Robyn Moore earned top recognition among close to 300 competitors

Two basketball stars from the Greenville Timberwolves made their mark at the recent Junior All Native tournament.

Out of an estimated 275 players in the U17 girls, Kristy Innes was named MVP and Tournament High-Scorer and Robyn Moore was Best Defensive Player at the Aboriginal basketball championship.

Innes is an aggressive shooting guard and tallied a total 142 points in the six games played by the Greenville Timberwolves.

“She’s crazy quick and aggressive on her drive,” said coach Marietta McKay. “She can get to the hoop, it doesn’t matter who’s in her way.”

Innes also throws up a lot of three-pointers and was a key personality in continuing the Timberwolves’ momentum going into the Junior All Native finals. The team had beat Kaien Island 55-51 in the double knockout-semi final, and were going up against Hesquiaht Storm in a rematch, gold-medal final.

READ MORE: Greenville Timberwolves claim title in Junior All Native

“Kristy was the spark plug who got the whole team going,” said McKay. “She came out with two threes right off the bat in the final game… that just fired the girls up. She’s good at that.”

Robyn Moore, nicknamed “Block City,” was another key force on the team with formidable blocks and defensive skill.

“She was averaging 10-12 blocks a game,” said McKay, of why Moore won Best Defensive Player.

“You block one shot, that’s two points off the board, so she was stopping at least 20 points a game.”

Robyn Moore stops a shot from a Hesquiaht shooter in the final minutes of the title-winning Junior All Native game recently. (Contributed photo)

As a post player, Moore also got a lot of rebounds, both defensive and offensive, and she was a key communicator and leader on the court.

“She’s really vocal and she communicates and kind of controls the court,” said McKay. “She tells them to shift, push out, get there, rebound, watch outside… and that really makes our defence work properly.”

Jewel Leeson, who was named an All Star, is the point guard for the team and was also crucial all tournament.

The Greenville Timberwolves formed in 2013 when they learned the Junior All Native was being hosted in the Nass Valley.

The team’s been playing ever since, coached by McKay and practicing five times a week, and they’ve competed in all but one of the Junior All Native championships.

“The first year we sucked,” said Moore, adding that they lost two-straight games and then did the same in Kamloops the following year.

But the team proved its mettle in 2015, when they upset almost every other team to take silver in the U17 draw in Vancouver.

“We went from losing two straight, to going right up to the top. We were called the Cinderella story,” said Moore.

In 2016, the girls repeated their silver finish, going undefeated until finals, and last year they claimed their first title with an 85-51 victory over Van City.

“Our goal was to win it in their house (in Okanagan where they lost the year prior), so we went, and we did that,” said Moore with a simple, matter-of-fact tone.

“We may have lost in the semis (to Van City), we always have a bad game every year… so we had to go down and fight to meet up with them again in the finals… and we won by a good 20 points,” Moore said.

READ MORE: Kitkatla ends 54-year drought with All Native tournament win

And this year the girls repeated nearly the exact same pattern, losing to Hesquiaht in the semis, dropping down and then battling back against Kaien Island for another shot at finals, where they defended their title with a 66-57 win.

It was a satisfying finish for Moore, she said, as she graduates off the team this year with Kelli Quash and Jada Dennis.

“It was nice to go out as champions,” she said, adding that she loves playing with the team, which is basically a family. “It’s really fun hitting the court with them… I just love playing basketball… I’ll always be playing, right until my wheels fall off,” she said.


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