The buzzer sounds on another NABI tournament for GRIC teams and players

Christopher Lomahquahu
Gila River Indian News



The Native American Basketball Invitational brought teams from across the country to play in the City of Maricopa and tribal communities leading up to championship games at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on June 29. 

After a week of tournament play, eight teams contested for a top spot in the boys and girl’s division gold and silver brackets. 


Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis welcomed everyone to the NABI championship game, in which the Community was a host site for games played during the tournament. “It’s an honor to be an on-going partner with NABI, we were really honored to host the games at the District 5 Vah-Ki gymnasium,” said Lewis. 


When the buzzer rang out, the boy’s gold division FDM team from the Yavapai Nation and other tribal communities, came out the winners, beating their opponent Sweat Rocks (Kansas), 74-66. 


In the boy’s silver division, Red Storm (California) routed Three Nations, beating them 80-48. 

In the girl’s games, NM Elite (New Mexico) repeated as champions to capture the gold division title over Unity (Washington state) 70-66.  Also from New Mexico, Pink Thunder would lead their way to victory over the Florida-based team, Shooting Stars 56-49. 


FMD consists of players from the Yavapai Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Colorado River Indian Tribe and San Carlos Apache Tribe. On the team, was Community member Nickolas Harrison, who contributed to the teams win, with a volley of three-point shots. 


On the home front, the Gila River Boys and Girls teams had impressive performances, but could not break the first round of gold and silver bracket play. The GR boys fell to the Yavapai Nation, 73-59, during gold bracket play, while the Snaketown boys team could not get a rhythm going in their game against Alaska, falling 67-37 in the silver bracket. 


In the girl’s division, the teams from the Community made good runs, but also fell short of advancing in the gold and silver division brackets. The Snaketown girls put everything on the court, but could not hang with Pink Thunder (New Mexico), who took a late game lead to victory, 45-34 to move up in the gold bracket.  


In the silver bracket the GR girls lost a close game to Meskwaki Nation, 30-28. 

The tournament championship games wrapped-up a week of activities, that included career fairs, junior basketball camps, and an appreciation night for the teams. It was a chance for teams to take a break to interact with the various activities organized with NABI and tournament sponsors.  


Before the championship games at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Gov. Lewis introduced Miss Gila River Tyler Owens and former tournament competitor Grace Elias, from District 7, who is a freshman at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). At UCLA, Elias is on the rowing team, also played basketball at Westwood High School and was a four-year varsity basketball letterwinner.   


During the tournament, the NABI foundation awarded $10,000 scholarships to two students with ties to the Community. Twin sisters Camilla and Leanna Lewis, who will be attending Stanford University this fall, are the great-grandchildren of Eugenia Apkaw from District 4. Their father is Patrick Lewis.  


Patrick said they support their daughters’ academic achievement, and that sports has been a part of their lives growing up. “They are very athletic and play in sports during their high school years, but basketball has always been their number one sport,” said Patrick.