Show your support for National Problem Gambling Awareness Month

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“For a lot of people, gambling is the grand escape because they aren’t doing anything illegal, they are not using external chemicals,” explained Tulalip Problem Gambling Coordinator, Sarah Sense Wilson. “But it’s a process addiction that causes brain chemistry changes and floods your brain with dopamine – and it’s hard to have rational judgment because you’re under the influence of your own brain chemistry.”

For the past decade, the Tulalip Problem Gambling program has actively participated in a nationwide initiative known as National Problem Gambling Awareness month. Occurring every March, the Problem Gambling Program helps bring attention to the compulsive gambling disease by hosting fun, engaging, informative, and impactful gatherings during the awareness month.

Originally, the campaign began nearly twenty years ago in response to the rise of sports betting surrounding the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament. An estimated two million US citizens meet the criteria for severe gambling addiction any given year, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. And though that is roughly just one percent of the entire country’s population, there are hundreds of families affected by problem gambling, and the myriad of issues brought on by the disease, every year. 

The dangerous and often silent habit affects the Native American community at a much higher rate than other ethnicities. A 2019 study by the National Institute on Alcohol and Related Conditions showed that 2.3% of the Indigenous population in America are battling a gambling addiction. That statistic is expected to be on the rise following the pandemic, however, that is the most current and up-to-date study available on this topic. 

Said Sarah, “Gambling may not be their primary addiction, it can be tied in with other diseases – grief, loss, trauma – and that barely scratches the surface. We’re focused on putting information out in the community; we’re doing presentations, we’re doing outreach and community education as much as we can. I think it’s especially important in Indian Country that we shine a spotlight on Problem Gambling Awareness month, given that a lot of our tribal communities have high risk factors and vulnerabilities. The more that we’re informed, the more we can make good decisions for ourselves.” 

Indian Boarding School Survivor, Matthew Warbonnet, took time to speak about how the Tulalip Problem Gambling program has helped him navigate his trauma resulting from the years he endured at the St. Francis Indian School in South Dakota – a Catholic institution where students were subjected to a multitude of mental and physical abuses throughout their duration at the school. 

He shared, “There were times when kids were literally beaten to the floor. Corporal punishment was the call of the day you might say. I think a lot of our history attributes to addiction, whatever that addiction might be, and I think that if there were more programs like this, that would help our people. Even if only five people went to those programs, you’re looking at affecting that entire family in a good way, and it’s a ripple effect.”

Matthew continued, “We all have issues from the past that bother us. And the (boarding school experiences) were haunting me and I couldn’t run from it. It got to the point where I no longer wanted to be here, and I was ready to move on. I contemplated suicide on several occasions – and I started in with self-destructive behavior. One day I kind of realized what I was doing. So, when I heard about this program, I came down. And I want to say that I really appreciate the Tulalip Tribes for having this program because it’s been tremendous for me. Just being here and being able to identify what those issues are. I came to understand that I should not reject any offering of help – I appreciate this program more than I can ever say.”

The Tulalip Problem Gambling program is a national model program that many Indigenous tribes look to when designing and operating their own programs. They are also a part of a northwest intertribal problem gambling coalition, with the Swinomish, Lummi, Stillaguamish, Port Gamble, Suquamish, Puyallup, Muckleshoot, and Nisqually tribes, that meets regularly to discuss what is and what isn’t working for their programs. They also share ideas on how to educate their communities and provide prevention and treatment to those in need of assistance. 

The Tulalip Problem Gambling program has helped aid those in recovery over the years by developing a personalized plan with each person who walks through their doors. Since its establishment, the Problem Gambling program has served not only members of the Tulalip tribal community, but non-Natives as well who are also fighting a gambling addiction and live in our neighboring communities of Everett, Marysville, Arlington, and Stanwood.

A local woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, opened up about her personal recovery journey with the Problem Gambling program. She stated, “I was pretty much a daily gambler for about 15 years. I ended up getting fired from my job because of my gambling issues. My rock bottom was losing my job and when that happened is when I finally realized what I was doing. Those two weeks after I lost my job – that was probably the worst experience of my life. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, I was in physical pain all day long. I went through a couple of weeks of just really an all-consuming guilt and shame, and it was horrific.

“And then I thought, you know what, I just need to find a GA meeting. So, I went online and found a GA meeting and attended my first meeting in Everett where I met this guy who told me about the Problem Gambling Program that Sarah runs. The next week I went and had an assessment, and the rest is history. I have just over 10 months of sobriety and will reach my first year in April.”

Both Matthew and our anonymous speaker praised the Problem Gambling program for identifying the root of their addiction and for creating a space where gambling addicts can gather to support each other while on the road to recovery. And similarly, when asked to share some words of advice and encouragement for others who are currently caught in the cycle of compulsive gambling, they both wanted to share that recovery from this disease is possible with the help of the program, and also to extend an invite to anybody battling their addiction. 

This National Problem Gambling Awareness month, the Problem Gambling program will be hosting two major events to help bring attention to this issue that is plaguing many people throughout the reservation and region. The first event is the Positive Action Screening Day which will take place Tuesday, March 12 at the Tulalip Admin building from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Shared Sarah, “The screening day is another national campaign and it’s a non-invasive way for people to do a quick screen, for people to self-determine where they’re at with their relationship to gambling – is it healthy, is it not healthy, could it be better? It’s four questions and only three of them are related to gambling. We’ll be providing information cards and we’ll be giving out cookies, popcorn, cupcakes, and mini smudge kits in exchange for them to complete that four-question survey.”

The next event will be held on Sunday, March 24, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Tulalip Resort Casino. This is the popular and much anticipated dinner celebration that is held on an annual basis and offers the promise of good food, good entertainment, and eye-opening testimonies from local gambling addicts in recovery.  

“The dinner is held to raise awareness and provide a space for education about the addiction and about prevention but it’s also to celebrate those in recovery,” said Sarah. “We want to lift them up and have them be in a space where they’re cared for, celebrated, cheered-on, and honored for their work – and also for their contributions to the recovery community. Every person in recovery is contributing to the wellness to the whole, and that’s powerful.

“We’ll have a variety of entertainment; our 206 drummers, everyone loves them being there, they rock the house and bring that energy. Natosha Gobin is going to do the opening blessing and she’s going to share a traditional story that relates to addiction. Then we will have a GA speaker who will share their story, their inspiration. And our Master of Ceremony is Kasey Nicholson, he is a comedian and was also the keynote a few years ago. It’s free, it’s open to everybody, and everyone is invited!”

We hope you show your support during this year’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month. If you or someone you love is dealing with a gambling addiction, or if you would like to find out more information about the Problem Gambling program, please contact (360) 716-4304.

Crafting dreamcatchers with Dinesha Kane

By Wade Sheldon 

Embracing the healing power of creativity, Tulalip tribal member Dinesha Kane transformed a gloomy, overcast Saturday into a vibrant day of crafting at the Hibulb Cultural Center. On February 24, Dinesha led a class, sharing the artistry of crafting dreamcatchers, a skill she developed on her healing journey.

According to the Indigenous Foundation, dreamcatchers trace their origins to the Ojibwes in North America. Typically handmade, these intricate creations involve sticks or hoops and woven nets made from sinew, leather, feathers, and beads. The 1960s and 70s saw dreamcatchers gaining popularity and spread within Native American communities, thanks to the Pan-Indian movement.

Intricately entwined with profound symbolism, dreamcatchers convey a story through their elements. The hoop, a representation of life, joins forces with a spider’s web-like weave intricately designed to snare the tendrils of nightmares. Feathers, akin to soft ladders, guide the path of good dreams toward the dreamer’s realm. At the same time, beads serve as storytellers—a solitary bead embodying a spider and an array of beads narrating the ensnarement of bad dreams.

Dinesha decided to make her first dreamcatcher five years ago for her son. The problem was she needed to learn how to start or who she could talk to about learning. 

“I found a dreamcatcher at a secondhand store and deconstructed it to figure out how it went together,” Dinesha said. “I taught myself how to make them. I was in a place that needed healing. After that, I found people to assist me with learning new styles and techniques. I find growth in being able to ask for help.”

Dinesha continued, “As for teaching, it was not something I expected, but it has been a wonderful surprise, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Once I got into Hibulb and started meeting more people, I found that I love teaching. There’s nothing like being able to teach at our museum. It’s a blessing and an honor. I hope to get more youth out there learning and showcasing their work.” 

As Dinesha continues to inspire with her creative workshops, the dreamcatchers crafted in her class not only capture dreams but also symbolize a journey of healing and artistic expression. 

To register for upcoming classes or to learn about future courses, contact Dinesha at (425)876-8788 or visit her website at

Hawks memorable season comes to an end at Regionals

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The whirlwind experience that was the 2023-2024 basketball season ended abruptly in the WIAA Class 1B regional round. Hosted in what was supposed to be a neutral site at Arlington High School on Saturday, February 24, was anything but, in the best kind of way, as the (17-8) Heritage Hawks fans descended upon the gymnasium like a home game. Meanwhile, their opponent, the (18-7) Columbia Adventist Academy Kodiaks came all the way from Battle Ground, a suburb of Vancouver near Oregon.

A raucous environment with all the patented sounds expected of a true Tulalip home game: from chants of “Defense!” and “Tulalip power!” to roars of applause when a Hawk connected on a 3-pointer and immediate uproar when a foul was called on Hawks defenders.

The game’s stakes couldn’t have been higher, and both teams played like it. Their energy and intensity befitting a proper playoff game, with an opportunity to play in the holy grail that is Spokane Arena up for grabs. 

The first half was a battle of contrasting styles that played out to an apparent stale-mate when the score was tied 32-32 late in the 2nd quarter. Heritage exerting every effort to dictate tempo with their run and gun style predicated on forcing turnovers and knocking down 3-pointers. While Columbia Adventist wanted to control the boards and funnel their offense through their power forward, a musclebound 6’2 blondie by the name of Tristan White. 

Senior center Damon Pablo was effective in the game’s early going, scoring three times in the painted area. Then freshman guard Amare Hatch caught fire right before halftime when he made three consecutive 3-balls; each one receiving a louder roar from the dedicated Hawks fans.

Coming out of halftime, the boys trailed by just 1 point, 36-37. The 3rd quarter proved to be decisive. Heritage struggled to get quality jump shots against the adjusted Columbia defense. Meanwhile, the Kodiaks fed Tristan White over and over again to the tune of five buckets; more than the entire Heritage team combined in the 3rd. The Hawks got outscored 11-18 in the frame, and entered the 4th trailing 47-55.

In the 4th quarter, Heritage raged against the dying of the light and continued to shoot from deep until they found their range, once again. Amare hit two more 3’s and fellow guard Chano Guzman connect on two of his own to scratch back to within 4 points, 63-67 with 90 seconds left. This prompted the Kodiaks to call timeout, which was immediately met with another thunderous chant of “Tulalip POWER!”

Unfortunately, that feel good moment would soon dissipate as the boys were unable to muster another point. The buzzer sounded, the scoreboard illuminated a score of 63-70, and so ended Heritage’s memorable season.

Amare led Tulalip in scoring with 17 points off the bench, Hazen Shopbell notched 14 points, and Chano added 12 points. As for that Columbia Adventist center with locks of gold, he scored 27 points.

Finishing just one win shy of a State bid and team journey to Spokane was visible on the emotionally exhausted teenagers who rode a high for the last 3 weeks of playoff basketball.

“We were not so good in the beginning the season (1-3 record), but the coaches kept believing in us and we were able to come together as a team,” said senior forward Hazen Shopbell postgame. “We got better and better the more we practiced, and when we finally got all our players eligible, then came the confidence that we could beat anyone. Playing in gym after gym filled with our fans cheering us on and yelling “Defense!” to get our opponents out of rhythm was huge. We fed off of our fans’ energy all season. This season is something I’ll never forget.”

“This team, man, we grew so much. We really grew into a family,” added senior guard Chano Guzman. “We used to do our own thing on the court, a bunch of iso and what not, but once we got over that and started working as a team, our chemistry just grew and grew. As a senior and lead guard, I always had my team’s back and did my best to be there for them on and off the court. Whoever I ball with, I’m always going to have their back.

“For me, the best moment of the season was getting the huge win over Muckleshoot during the Tri-District tournament. We lost to them earlier in the season when I wasn’t eligible and knew that if I played, we’d beat them. So when we got a chance to play them again, and I got my get back with the W, that meant everything to me. Looking forward, I plan on staying involved in the community and helping the younger players continue to develop their skills. If a college team comes a knocking, I’ll answer for sure.”

Until next time Hawks fans.

Acknowledgement, spoken into existence

By Micheal Rios

We acknowledge the original inhabitants of this place, the sduhubš, and their successors, the Tulalip Tribes. Since time immemorial, they have hunted, fished, gathered on, and taken care of these lands and waters. We respect their sovereignty, their right to self-determination and honor their sacred spiritual connection with these lands and waters. We will strive to be honest about our past mistakes and bring forth a future that includes their people, stories, and voices to form a more just and equitable society.

Those words are read aloud to begin Everett City Council meetings. Those words are the city’s official land acknowledgement. Those words were approved in 2021 after being developed by the Everett Diversity Advisory Board in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes. 

Now, those words have spoken into existence the permanent installation of Coast Salish imagery to adorn the outside of the Everett Municipal Building. Serving as a constant fixture to all those who pass by or enter the city’s primary office building that you are on Native land. 

“Our city lies on the historic land of the sduhubš people and their successors, the Tulalip Tribes, and as such, I believe it’s essential for us to pay respect to the original inhabitants of these lands,” said Cassie Franklin, Mayor of the City of Everett. “I’m proud to have James Madison create such a beautiful and impactful piece of art to honor Indigenous peoples and our ongoing commitment to acknowledge their connection to these lands.

“Previously, this building had no color nor any beauty to it, but now it has gorgeous reds and yellows that really bring the building to life, and is sure to catch the eye of our city’s residents and tourists when in the area,” she added.

Tulalip’s neighboring city to the south, Everett, is the seventh-largest city in all of Washington State by population, and it’s by far the largest city in Snohomish County. Established in 1890, the city of Everett is situated on a peninsula. Its city boundaries are designated by the Snohomish River to the east and the Salish Sea to the west.

In precolonial times, long before imaginary map borders, the land Everett was built upon was home to our Tulalip ancestors. As a sustenance-based people who thrived with the many offerings of the natural environment, they flourished in the ideal fishing and hunting location.

Tulalip culture bearer Tony Hatch offered further historical insight when speaking at the installations unveiling on February 22 to those in attendance. “Not too far from this very spot was a traditional village of our ancestors that we named our cultural center after, Hibulb. It’s precise location is what’s now known as Legion park. Hibulb was a central hub and primary village of the Snohomish people who we do our best to honor today.”

Following Tony’s words, a group of Tulalip citizens offered a traditional song to those Everett residents and city officials who gathered on the picturesque winter day. Those gathered were also treated to a taste of Tulalip fine dining in the form of Ryan’s REZ-ipes.

The enormous, metal fabricated art installation consists of bold red, striking yellow, and stout black colors is impossible to miss for pedestrians and commuters alike. But forged into the durable aluminum and medicine wheel colored pallet is a traditional teaching that has been passed down for generations.

“With this project, I wanted to pay respect to our culture as this region’s first people,” explained Tulalip’s own James Madison. “I tried to showcase our culture and who our people are, while paying respect to the Salish Sea through the blackfish, salmon, and our stories that have been passed on for generations.

“The salmon run that wraps around the building represents Sockeye,” he continued. “They used to be so abundant in our local waters, but now their runs are really short and even desolate in some places. It’s important that we continue to raise awareness of the dwindling salmon runs because their well-being is interconnected with the well-being of both blackfish and human populations. My grandpa, Frank Madison, always told me that it’s up to us to keep the blackfish and salmon alive because if they go away, then humans will go away as well.”

At the heart of this latest collaboration between a Washington State municipality and one of our talented artists is a respect for a cultural heritage that pre-dates the urban landscapes that have taken over Coast Salish territory. As the physical manifestation of a land acknowledgement and traditional teaching, James Madison’s latest creation serves as a reminder to respect the environment, engage in sustainable practices, and respect the Indigenous peoples who have called this land home since time immemorial.

Journey Delayed: Ahousaht calls off Canoe Journey 2024

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Off the coast of Vancouver Island, only accessible by boat or plane, is the home of the Ahousaht First Nation band, an island community where close to 40% of its 2,224 enrolled membership reside. The culture and traditional ways are strong within this band and many travel hundreds of miles to witness and partake in Ahousaht events and family potlatches. 

Whenever Ahousaht singers and dancers are offering their medicine, they captivate the crowd with the execution of their songs and chants. And wherever they have the floor, whether at Thunderbird Hall in Ahousaht or at protocol during canoe journey, onlookers can count on Ahousaht to bring plenty of energy for hours on end, as their singers are known to perform well into the early morning of the next day. 

While each tribe is a must-see during protocol at canoe journey, Ahousaht is a fan favorite for many people, who will go as far as to plan their day according to when Ahousaht will be hitting the floor, to ensure they won’t miss their set. 

If you were to ask lifelong canoe journey men and women, you will find that many will fondly recollect on the 1999 paddle to Ahousaht – it’s remoteness from the busy world, the natural scenery of the sea and nearby uninhabited islands, as well as the people’s hospitality and their connection to their teachings and traditions. 

With a great reputation for their showmanship and remarkable performances at canoe journey, there was much excitement when a handful of Ahousaht members shared that the band would be hosting the summertime cultural sharing event in 2024. As soon as that announcement was made on the Tribal Journeys Facebook page last August, anticipation immediately began to build, and social media was buzzing as people started planning for a long pull to Ahousaht. 

However, it appears that that announcement was made prematurely and the request to host the 2024 canoe journey did not go through the proper channels or follow the band’s traditional protocols or procedures. 

This is according to a February 6, media release shared by Ahousaht’s leadership which informed their fellow tribes that they will not be hosting this upcoming journey. Since the Ahousaht community is located on an island, event goers would need to park their vehicles in the small tourist town of Tofino, which has limited parking space as it is, and arrange a ride via water taxi to Ahousaht. Additionally, the band does not yet have the space to host an event of such a large scale, as canoe journey has gradually grown over the years since Ahousaht last hosted 25 years ago. 

The release stated, “… Ahousaht and the surrounding region, including the District of Tofino, are not prepared to host the 2024 Canoe Journeys. Ahousaht and Tofino currently lack the necessary infrastructure (ex. parking. accommodations, food services, washroom facilities, medical and security services, etc.) to effectively and safely host the volume of canoe families that participate in Canoe Journeys. Ahousaht are currently in the development stages of several key infrastructure projects that are due to be completed in the coming years.”

At the bottom of the media release, Ahousaht did promise that they would host canoe journey once they have the capacity to do so, which they estimated would be in about five years or so. 

The release was initially met with a bit dismay, but also an overall understanding, given the band’s reasoning to not host this year. Many were supportive and commended Ahousaht’s leadership for making the hard but necessary choice to hold off until they are able to safely host a weeklong gathering for hundreds of people. 

When asked how this decision will affect Tulalip and the canoes that sail under its banner, Skipper Andrew Gobin said that the canoe family has yet to meet to discuss whether or not they will awaken Big Brother, Big Sister, and Little Sister this year. Andrew did note that the Tribe organized a pull to Lopez Island during the canoe journey’s last gap year in 2020, and also mentioned that participation in Puyallup’s youth paddle could be a possibility for local kids and teens. But he quickly followed with the reiteration that a decision has not yet been made in regard to the Tulalip canoes following Ahousaht’s media release. So, keep an eye out for any future updates by following the Tulalip Canoes Facebook page.

The next canoe journey is set for the summer of 2025, which will be hosted on the Olympic Peninsula by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. 

Valentine’s Day Social unites community for joyful celebration

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News 

On February 14, the Greg Williams Memorial Gym became a hub of delight and celebration as 477-TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) hosted a lively Valentine’s Day Social in collaboration with Child Support Enforcement. As a heartfelt way to express gratitude to their clients, the memorable occasion brought together supporting staff, clients, and their families in an informal and lighthearted setting.

 The atmosphere was brimming with excitement as parents and kids alike reveled in various activities, games and face painting, to pizza, cookie decorating, and a cakewalk. Tulalip tribal member Aiden Leora, who was having a blast running around and playing games with his mom, said, “my favorite part was the skatepark and painting cookies.” 

“It was a wonderful event,” tribal member Rosemarie Runningwater said. “I have five grandkids and live in a one-bedroom apartment, which means a lot. The kids get to be themselves, and grandma gets a little break. It’s wonderful.”

 “The highlights of this event are collaborating with the other departments and seeing all the kids run around and enjoy themselves,” 477-TANF manager Laura Wiggins said. “That’s what we live for. We are here for the children and keeping families together. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and following that, it takes all our departments and community members to enable a great path forward for our tribe.”

Laura continued,  “With staff turnover and new clients coming in, this event gives the clients and the staff a chance to meet one another in a not-so-formal event. It’s a great way to show our appreciation for our clients. We wouldn’t have a job if we didn’t have them.” 

As the Valentine’s Day Social ended, the lively atmosphere lingered, echoing the successful efforts of 477-TANF, Child Services, and our community. Laughter smiles, and meaningful connections defined the day, reinforcing the essence of our tribe. A special thanks to all who contributed, and as a parting gesture, each attendee left with a gift bag—a token of appreciation. Stay tuned for upcoming events and initiatives.

If you have any questions or want to know more about 477-TANF, call (360) 716-4719 or email 

Heritage Hawks soar into Regionals

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Ok, Hawks fans. For those of you who have journeyed with the team from as far north as Lummi and as far south as Tacoma, then major props to your dedication to fill the bleachers and cheer on the boys getting buckets. For everyone else, here’s your much-awaited playoff update. 

The last two weeks whizzed by at a frenetic pace that resembles the high-octane offense that fuels the Tulalip Hawks deep playoff run. Last we checked in, Tulalip had just claimed 2nd place in the NW1B District tournament. Falling to their inner-league rival and fellow tribal school, the Lummi BlackHawks. The silver showing punched Heritage’s ticket into the Tri-District tournament, and with it the right to host a 1st round home game.

1st Round:

Tulalip hosted Concordia Christian Academy at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium on February 10. Friends and family who filled the bleachers were treated to a good ol’ fashioned Christian beatdown. Adrian Jefferson got the party started with a transition layup, followed by Tokala Black Tomahawk hitting a midrange jumper to put the home team up 4-0. Then the boys got to work on defense; trapping ill-prepared ball handlers, coming up with one steal after another, and preventing Concordia from any quality shot attempts. Their 4-0 lead ballooned to 20-2 late in the 1st quarter.

Both offense and defense continued to fire on all cylinders well into the 3rd quarter when the boys were up 61-30. Doubling up their opponent, Coach Sanchey made the most of the moment by putting in a full unit of bench players. One by one, the bench got buckets to the delight of their fans and teammates who actively cheered them on through each 3-point attempt. Mercy finally came to those Concordia Christians in the form of the game-ending buzzer. 

The 75-38 blowout W was an ideal way to get their Tri-District tournament started. Freshman guard J.J. Gray led all scorers with 23 points to go with his 10 rebounds and 13 steals…that’s a triple-double with steals! Amare Hatch added 13 points. Notably, Tulalip had 10 players score a bucket and, as a team, amassed a whopping 29 steals. 

“Being this is Tri-Districts, we told our team pregame to view this as a whole new season. The regular season is behind us, Districts is behind us. Each team is reset and all our records go to 0-0,” said Coach Sanchey after the home W. “Now, after this win, we’re 1-0 and have to focus on keeping up the momentum and continue to play this energy on each possession moving forward. So long as we play our game like we know how, then I like our chances no matter who the opponent.”

2nd Round:

The Hawks ventured south to take on the Sound Christian Lions in Tacoma on February 13. It was a slow start for the boys as their shots just weren’t falling in the early going. Meanwhile, the Lions were feasting on offensive rebounds and getting high percentage shots at the rim. End of one, Tulalip trailed 11-15.

In the 2nd quarter, J.J. and Tokala started to sizzle. Both players made a 3-pointer, connected on a running floater and made a free-throw, which sparked a dominant 23-11 run by their team, resulting in a 34-26 halftime lead. The remainder of the game would be a near equal battle, with the Lions continuing to pursue buckets in the painted area while the Hawks used their athleticism and shooting touch to execute their offense from the perimeter. 

Threes being worth more than twos, Tulalip’s shooters connected on 10 deep balls as a team and left Tacoma with another W. This time by the margin of 62-54. J.J. once again led all scorers with 24 points, while Tokala scored 14 points and Chano Guzman added 11 points.

3rd Round:

Next up, the Hawks journeyed north on February 16 for yet another matchup with their version of basketball kryptonite, Lummi Nation. Worth knowing: if we didn’t include Lummi games, then Tulalip would be riding a massive 13-game winning streak. But that’s not how it works, so over their last 16 games Tulalip had a still impressive 13-3 record, yet all 3 of those losses came at the hands of the dreaded BlackHawks. Would the fourth time be the charm?

First quarter. Down 0-4, J.J. used a burst of speed to blow by his defender and score on a two-handed scoop shot to give Tulalip their first bucket. After Lummi hit a 3-pointer, Tokala countered with a 3 ball of his own to keep it close, 5-7. Then, Lummi did what Lummi does, which is play the classic Rez ball style better than anyone else around. They took a double-digit lead by the end of the 1st quarter and never relinquished it. 

Tulalip would trail 10-25 in the 2nd, 33-48 in the 3rd and ultimately lost 45-61. Tokala and J.J. both scored 16 points, Chano added 10 points, and Amare chipped in 5 points. With the loss, Tulalip still advanced to the Tri-District 3rd place game with significant Regional seeding impact still on the line. 

4th Round (3rd place game):

Tulalip had less than 24 hours to shake off the L to Lummi when they again travelled north. This time for a February 17 matchup with Muckleshoot at Mt. Vernon Christian’s gym. These two teams previously met way back on December 4 in Tulalip, when the Hawks were defeated 52-69. 

The second time around did not start off well. In fact, the boys trailed 0-12 midway through the 1st quarter before senior forward Hazen Shopbell put his team on the board with a tough transition bucket. Moments later, now trailing 4-16, J.J. corralled an offensive rebound and found a wide-open Hazen in the corner. Hazen splashed a 3 ball that gave his team new life.

Tulalip would start clicking on both sides of the ball and managed to claw their way back to tie the game 36-36 late in 3rd quarter. With the pressure clearly on Muckleshoot after blowing their big lead, all their players except one would buckle in the game’s decisive 4th quarter. 

In the final frame, Muckleshoot could only muster consistent offense from their senior forward. Meanwhile, Hazen continued his hot shooting and welcomed the added offense of the team’s freshman phenom. J.J. Gray would explode for 12 points in the game’s biggest moment to cap off the comeback victory. With eager chants of “Tulalip Power!” echoing from the Mt. Vernon bleachers, the boys basked in the 65-59 W knowing they had claimed 3rd place in the Tri-District tournament and punched their ticket to Regionals.

The Hawks were led by J.J.’s 20 points and Hazen’s 19 points. Tokala chipped in 13 points, 11 of which came in the 1st quarter to keep his team competitive. 

Looking ahead:

After adding a 3rd place finish in Tri-Districts to their in-season resume, Tulalip now soars into the Regional tournament with one simple goal: win and move on to State. They’ve been designated the #9 seed and will play the winner of #16 Columbia Adventist vs #17 Mount Vernon Christian. 

Mark your calendars. Tulalip’s one and only regional game will be played on Saturday, February 24, at 8pm at Arlington High School. Win and their season continues at State. Lose and their memorable run comes to a sudden end.