Coach Andrew Bowers was exhorting his players on the court at the US Airways Stadium, his voice cutting through the din of cheering spectators, the squeaks of basketball shoes, the shrill blasts of the referee’s whistle.
“Defense!’’ he roared. “Lock it up! Lock it up! Lock it up!’’
The 18,422-seat stadium is the home of the Phoenix Mercury, a Women’s National Basketball Association franchise. But that wasn’t the team on the court. Bowers is the coach for the Rez Runners, a team of young men from the Seminole, Miccosukee and Winnebago tribes from Hollywood, Florida, where their home court has an audience capacity of just about 200.
By halftime on Saturday, they were tied 31-31 against the Cheyenne Arapaho team in the final game for the gold championship at the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI).
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