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Yellowknife’s newest youth sports league had its opening-season grand finale on Tuesday and it went as good as it could have gone, according to Cole Marshall.

Jozuard Mercado, left, was named the Yellowknife Youth Basketball League’s most valuable player following completion of the league’s final night of action at William McDonald Gymnasium on Tuesday evening. He received the award from Cole Marshall, Basketball NWT’s technical director. photo courtesy of Cole Marshall

The Yellowknife Youth Basketball League wrapped up proceedings for its inaugural campaign at William McDonald Gymnasium on Tuesday evening with four teams battling it out for the right to be called the very first champions. In the end, Carolina Blue defeated Royal Blue to win the crown while Team Green defeated Team Yellow to claim third place.

Marshall, Basketball NWT’s technical director, said Royal Blue just wasn’t able to overcome being shorthanded.

“They were the best team during our regular season but they were ravaged by illness,” he said. “A couple of their players weren’t feeling well and they tried their best but fell short.”

The final lowered the curtain on a season which featured a total of 46 players in Grades 6 through 8 among five teams and playing a three-month season.

Marshall said it was a good first run.

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“I was hoping to have at least seven teams – four male and three female – but we only had one female player sign up to play,” he said. “She ended up playing with the boys but I was happy that we had five male teams and it was a solid group of players.”

The season began this past October with an evaluation camp to figure out who would play on what team. The coaches, all of them youth, got a chance to see the players go through drills in order to see how best to put the teams together as fairly as possible.

“It wasn’t like a training camp where there’s cuts or anything like that,” said Marshall. “There were no tryouts – everyone who registered to play got to play and it was all about giving them the opportunity to play.”
Even after the teams were finalized, Marshall said they did make a couple of moves during the season to ensure an even balance.

From there, the teams played a regular season leading up to the culmination this past Tuesday evening.

Marshall said the format worked this season and he plans on tweaking things a bit for season two.

“I’m hoping to get more practice time for the kids,” he said. “We did have some practice in between games but we couldn’t get the gym time to do it more than I would have liked so we’ll work on that for next season. The identification camp worked out well so we won’t change a whole lot but I am hoping to get more females out for next season.”

Season two is planned to start in October with the identification camp planned for October, similar to the first season, he added.

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