Twin stars Annika and Ayanna Parr shine at 2024 Junior All-Native



​Two minutes into the second quarter of the championship game, 15-year-old Annika Parr calmly drained a three-pointer. The talented guard immediately stole the inbounds pass near half court. She threw the ball ahead to her sister Ayanna Parr who scored an easy layup, giving the defending champions Bella Coola a double digit lead over Laxgalts'ap that would only grow from there.

When the final buzzer sounded the scoreboard read 83-61. The young ladies from Nuxalk Nation were swarmed by family and friends as they celebrated their second straight championship at the 2024 Junior All-Native Basketball Tournament, hosted by the Nisga'a Nation in Terrace, BC. Annika finished the game with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 6 steals, setting the tone on offence and defense for her team.

Afterwards she said her mindset was simple: “Stay in the game. Be focused. Make baskets. Have fun."

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) proudly sponsors the youth basketball tournament every year, seeing the value of sport and communities coming together as core to the FNHA vision of healthy First Nations children and families. The FNHA also honours the self-determination of First Nations in BC, while celebrating the resiliency of First Nations cultures expressed through basketball.

“It's a part of our culture. It's who we are as a people," said Angel Mack, an assistant coach from Bella Coola. “Basketball roots back five, six generations. My great-great grandfather travelled up and down the coast playing in basketball tournaments. Almost all of these players have family members that were competing back in the 50's and 60's."

There were 85 teams across four divisions competing at the Terrace Sportsplex March 17 – 22. Over 1,200 athletes representing First Nations communities throughout BC marched onto the court during the opening ceremonies before battling through the double elimination brackets in front of passionate fans both in person and online. Many of the games were broadcast and streamed live on CFNR.

Syilx Nation won the U17 boys division with a strong showing in the finals against Vancouver. The hometown Nisga'a crowd was rocking when their young squad from the village of Gitlaxt'aamiks beat Gitanmaax to win the U13 girls division. Ahousat beat Laxgalts'ap in the U13 boys division finals. All three of those divisions ended the week with new champions bringing home bragging rights.

But it was the Nuxalk girls from Bella Coola, led by the Parr sisters, who were the only team to repeat as champs. Ayanna Parr had a game herself with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists as the twins consistently created open shots for the other, displaying on-the-court chemistry that can only be built from years of experience playing together- and practicing against each other.

“Me and her were always competitive with each other our whole lives. It was kind of like, whose better?" Annika Parr shared about her and her sister. “I have a lot of trust in her with the ball."

Assistant coach Mack said, “They put in the work and people can see it. Everybody knows who they are now at this tournament. When they talk about junior girls' basketball, they're talking about the twins."

The FNHA congratulates all of the players and coaches for another safe, healthy and successful tournament. The 2025 Junior All-Native will be hosted by the Syilx Nation in Kelowna next March.

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