Yellowknife Youth Basketball League (YYBL) players were aiming for first place during the last game of the season Sunday night at William McDonald School.
The excitement level rose to the rafters during the contest, which saw the Lakers eclipse the Thunder for top place.
The fast-paced session featured three-on-three action using half the court.
“We’ve got four teams of three-on-three. Usually basketball is five-on-five but we decided to do the three-on-three this year because the numbers were a little bit low this year, which was fine,” said league coordinator Trey Granter.
“The three-by-three is a totally different game — it’s only half the court, not the complete court,” he added.
“It’s quicker because there are only six guys on the court so there is more space to play.
“Tonight is our last night, the season finale, so we are doing the playoffs right now to see who is going to be the number one team,” he said during the fast-paced court action.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock, it was the Lakers who reigned supreme by a score of 11 to 9.
The Lakers’ roster comprised Jude Skinner, Leo Debogorski, Linden Peterson, Mardi Graham and Cruz Munro.
Graham was chosen as the game’s most valuable player.
“It’s a really good time out here — it’s good for the kids to learn. We usually do a practice and then play some games,” Granter said of the regular season routine.
He added that the basketball league consists of youth from grades 7 to 10, and each team has about five players for the three-on-three.
Rami Ayache, executive director of Basketball NWT, said in an email that the “three-by-three league is part of an initiative to provide more playing opportunities for youth in Yellowknife.”
“This league format provides the opportunity to create more teams,” Ayache said.
Granter said one of the highlights of the basketball season overall was the energy of everyone in the gym as they competed.
“It’s like, where there is 10 seconds left in the game and everyone is getting super-duper hyped up, that for me is my favorite — watching everybody getting excited and knowing that everybody is having fun,” Granter said.
“Basketball is a great sport. We’ve got some kids in here that can go places, for sure.”
—By Jill Westerman