Run N Gun looking for deep run in NABI tournament
The Run N Gun girls basketball team was one 14 teams that completed pool play action with a 3-0 record earlier this week.
Those teams earned top seeds in the 60-team, double-elimination bracket at the 2021 NABI basketball tournament.
“I think it’s gonna be very competitive,” Run N Gun coach Ephraim Sloan said of this year’s field. “With COVID last year, a lot of high school players missed the opportunities to play for club season. I think, in general, everyone just missed this competitive atmosphere so everyone is looking forward to getting back into this tournament.”
Run N Gun won all of their pool games by double figures. On Tuesday, they advanced into the second round after defeating No Fear by a 86-23 count. The Sloan-coached team would have played AZ Nations yesterday but results were not available at press time.
Sloan said every team in the tournament is eyeing the prize of being named tournament champion as the NABI Foundation announced late last week the winners of the tournament will get tickets to watch the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.
“I think that’s a good incentive,” Sloan said. “It would be nice to go but as long as my team performs and shows that they’re one of the best teams in Indian Country for high school girls and I’ll be satisfied with that.
“If we do win the tournament, going to the NBA Finals will be icing on the cake.”
The Run N Gun team is comprises 11 players, coming from varying schools on and off the reservation. The talent includes players from Tuba City, Flagstaff, Winslow and St. Michaels. Also in the mix are players from the Phoenix metro area with kids from Dobson, Westward, Hamilton and Mountain View.
“Most of my players have been with me since their freshman year,” he said. “I do have a few newcomers that are younger who are coming into the system but I have seven players that graduated.”
Those seniors got as far as the Elite Eight during the 2018 NABI tournament.
“I had a very strong team back then too,” he said. “I had four girls going to playing at the next level. The year before we were in the Sweet Sixteen and hopefully we’ll find ourselves in the championship game this year.”