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Local teens represent CSKT at All-west Native American Basketball Classic in Denver

The Flathead team took second place at the All-west Native American Basketball Classic: L to R:  Jesse Nenemay Jr., Jalen Bell, Zachary Wagner, Rocky Lewis, Zach Camel Jr., Jarred Brown, Andrew Curley, Stuart Grant, Isaac Camel. (Silas Perez photo) The Flathead team took second place at the All-west Native American Basketball Classic: L to R: Jesse Nenemay Jr., Jalen Bell, Zachary Wagner, Rocky Lewis, Zach Camel Jr., Jarred Brown, Andrew Curley, Stuart Grant, Isaac Camel. (Silas Perez photo)

PABLO — Local teens participated in the All-west Native American Basketball Classic in Denver. “It’s always a joy to be a part of such an awesome opportunity for the youth of the Flathead Indian Reservation,” says Rhonda Burke, administrative assistant at SKHA. “It’s even more rewarding to travel with a group of very respectable kids representing well and more so rewarding, when trophies are won!!” Two teams of boys and girls participated in the annual tournament.

On the first day in Denver, the teens visited the American Indian College Fund to learn about education and opportunities available after high school and some fun and games for the teams.

At the classic, there were 78 teams consisting of 46 boys’ teams and 32 girls’ teams representing their tribes. Through pool play, the boys landed in the Gold Bracket while the girls landed in the Silver Bracket.

The ladies from the Flathead reservation took 3rd place at the All-west Native American Basketball Classic this year. Top L to R: Daryl Conko-Camel, Angela North Piegan, Whitney Malatare, Malia Hamel, Tiffany Tallwhiteman, Coach Silas Perez, Rebecca Whitesell.  Bottom L to R: Coach Juan Perez, Mahalia Hendren, Casadi Wunderlich, Morgan Malatare. (Raelena Whitesell photo) The ladies from the Flathead reservation took 3rd place at the All-west Native American Basketball Classic this year. Top L to R: Daryl Conko-Camel, Angela North Piegan, Whitney Malatare, Malia Hamel, Tiffany Tallwhiteman, Coach Silas Perez, Rebecca Whitesell. Bottom L to R: Coach Juan Perez, Mahalia Hendren, Casadi Wunderlich, Morgan Malatare. (Raelena Whitesell photo)

The girls team was seeded 2 out of 16 teams in the Silver Bracket. They started with the win over Sacred Hoops to advance to play and win over O.N.E. Unfortunately, the girls were short for the “W” over Cheyenne Arapaho to take the semi-final game. With their commitment and hard work, the girls came out with the 3rd place trophy.

Seeded 21 out of 23, the boys shocked the crowds and went on to beat teams one by one. Beginning with the win over the BAGO Bomb Squad, the boys continued on to win over HI 5, Colorado And1 and a very exciting down to the last seconds half-court shot for the big win over the Oelrich’s Brotherhood to land in the Championship game. Seriously a highlight of the weekend, that shot made YouTube within the next few days. If you haven’t seen it already, search Zach Camel half-court shot on YouTube and check it out. The boys ended up with the loss against J.U.S Nation to take the second place trophy! Zach Camel won 2nd Team All-stars, while Stuart Grant won 1st Team All-stars and the Hustle Award.

“Overall it was a good weekend,” says Burke. “If you see any of the kids, be sure to congratulate them and thank them for being such a respectable, well representing group of kids.”

Casadi Wunderlich displays her winning artwork on the back of her prizes, a wind jacket and $50. (Rhonda Burke photo) Casadi Wunderlich displays her winning artwork on the back of her prizes, a wind jacket and $50. (Rhonda Burke photo)

Artwork Winner:
Congratulations to Casadi Wunderlich for the winning 2013 Salish & Kootenai All-star logo contest. SKHA had three submissions and the team members unanimously voted for Casadi’s artwork. Casadi won $50 Cash and a Wind Jacket.

Thank you to the other who submitted artwork.

Scholarship
Although, Salish & Kootenai did not bring home any scholarships for 2013, SKHA would like to recognize last year’s recipient, Mariah Hamel. Mariah was selected for the $4,000 Mark Ulmer Scholarship in 2012.

Mariah is currently attending college at the University of Montana. Congratulations Mariah and best of luck towards your education!!

Mariah Hamel who was awarded the Mark Ulmer Scholarship poses with with Kenny Anderson, the 2012 guest speaker and retired NBA Player. (Jami Hamel photo) Mariah Hamel who was awarded the Mark Ulmer Scholarship poses with with Kenny Anderson, the 2012 guest speaker and retired NBA Player. (Jami Hamel photo)

For more information on next year’s scholarship, visit www.markulmerscholarship.org

The Salish & Kootenai Housing Authority would like to thank Coach Juan Perez, Coach Silaz Perez, Coach Zack Conko-Camel, Coach Jr. Camel and chaperones William Conko, Rene Wildcat and Raelena Whitesell for such an amazing effort and commitment to the 2013 Salish & Kootenai All-star opportunity for students of the Flathead Indian Reservation. SKHA would also like to thank Rhonda Burke for her tireless effort to take care of all of the logistics to send 20 kids and 6 chaperones to Denver, to keep them feed and happy and to make sure no detail for the trip is overlooked.

The All-West Native American Basketball Classic was started by the tribes that comprise the United Native American Housing Association (UNAHA). The UNAHA region is Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska and there are 34 tribes in the region. The tournament was an idea from the UNAHA membership and the HUD regional office in Denver in 1985 as a result of a rash of youth suicides on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming that year. The UNAHA membership and HUD staff wanted to give Indian kids a chance to leave the reservation and be exposed to the world outside of their reservation boundaries. Over the years the tournament organizers have tried to bring in motivational speakers and other influential people to speak to the tournament participates to give them a positive message and to see that there is a world outside of the reservations that they reside on.

In the early 1990’s a HUD staff person Mark Ulmer who was involved in the tournament was killed in an accident. Shortly after Mr. Ulmer’s passing, his mother and father created the Mark Ulmer Scholarship Foundation and since the mid 1990’s they have awarded one or two boy’s and girl’s college scholarships to participate in the tournament. The Mark Ulmer Scholarship Foundation has awarded 73 college scholarships to Indian students who have participated in the tournament, including members of the S&K Allstars teams. Not only do these scholarship winners receive financial education awards but also they become lifelong friends with Sam and Nancy Ulmer, who are Mark’s partners and the administrators of the scholarship program in remembrance of their son. Each year for the tournament Sam and Nancy try to bring one or two of their past scholarship winners to Denver to speak to the tournament participates. It is always amazing to hear the life stories and how the scholarship helped change these award winner’s lives and give them hope and help to achieve a college education.

This year marked the 28th annual AWNABC. SKHA has been one of just a few of the members of UNAHA to send a team to every tournament since it began in 1986. You don’t have to look very far for someone from the Flathead Reservation that participated in the AWNABC and to hear a story they will always remember from their experience from the tournament and the various events that accompany the event.

For information regarding next year’s endeavor, feel free to contact Rhonda Burke at the Salish and Kootenai Housing Authority, 675-4491, ext. 1540.

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