Native American basketball players show who’s got game

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).

Read more here at Al Jazeera America.

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Tristan Ahtone

Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and serves as associate editor for tribal affairs at High Country News. He has reported for PBS NewsHour, National Native News, Wyoming Public Radio, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Indian Country Today, and National Geographic, and more. Tristan’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He additionally was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University in 2017. He is president of the Native American Journalists Association.

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