Airbender at work: Kendra Miller coaches BYU Ultimate to Top 12 ranking 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Ultimate Frisbee, often simply called “ultimate”, is experiencing a surge in popularity across college campuses nationwide. With more than 18,000 student-athletes competing on 800-plus teams, the college division is ultimate’s largest demographic, according to the sport’s national governing body USA Ultimate.

The popularity of college sports in America is not limited to NCAA varsity programs. Ultimate has proven that club sports can establish a rich tradition and elicit the same excitement and emotion from players, fans and alumni alike. Tulalip tribal member Kendra Miller checks all those boxes – player, fan, alumni – and one more, coach.

The 29-year-old played for Brigham Young University’s ultimate team for four years as a featured player. After her head coach departed following her senior season, Kendra was approached by school officials and asked if she was interested in filling the vacated head coach position. She graciously accepted and has been leading BYU ultimate for the past six years.

In her most recent stint patrolling the sidelines, Kendra witnessed the BYU Cougars skyrocket up the national rankings and sustain their early season success well into the postseason. The 2024 regular season lasted from early January through mid-April and resulted in a set of national rankings. BYU climbed as high as #10 in the entire country during the season and entered the Northwest Regional round of the postseason as #11, out of 800 eligible teams.

In an opportune twist of fate, the Northwest Regionals were hosted at the Skagit River Sports Complex (45-minutes north of Tulalip) in early May. This playoff tournament brought together the best of the best ultimate programs from the Northwest Region, which included the University of Washington, Oregon, University of British Columbia, and BYU.

After routing Montana by the score of 13-5 and then coming up just short to Oregon 10-13, BYU had an hour-long break before taking to the field again to face-off with U.W. During rest period, two BYU upperclassmen and team captains shared how much Kenda means to them as players and to their collegiate program.

“It’s been such a great experience being coached by Kendra. Something I really admire about her coaching style is she is strict and disciplined but in a way that motivates us to push ourselves to achieve the greatest things,” reflected BYU senior captain Madison Robinson. “For example, at our team camp that occurred before the season, she asked each one of us what are goals we wanted to achieve this year. She didn’t tell us what goals we should have or what goals she wanted for us. Instead, she listened to all of us and then worked with each player individually over the course of the season to progress towards achieving those pre-season goals we set for ourselves. That’s the best part for me, I think, is because she is such an outstanding ultimate player herself that she’s capable and willing to demonstrate to us what it takes to excel on the club and pro level.

“Something else that’s so amazing about Kendra is you have to realize our coaches aren’t paid to understand how insane it is the hours she puts in to make sure we have every opportunity to be the best team possible,” continued Madison. “For example, between practices she’s watching game film and cutting us reels to show what we did well, what we could do better, and adapting game strategy for our next opponent. She puts in so many hours behind the scenes just because she cares about our team and is committed to seeing us do well.”

Added junior captain Autumn Porter, “I couldn’t agree more. Watching Kendra play and then being coached by her is such an inspiration. She’s always pushing us to strive for reaching our full potential, which means always being open to learning new skills and never settling for anything less than 100% effort. Everything she does as a coach comes from her experience as a former BYU player and current pro. She also has the experience of playing with and against some of the best ultimate teams out there, plus she’s won nationals. So, for me, as someone who dreams of playing in the pro level, it’s like she’s teaching us how to play, practice, and act as pros even though we’re still in college. It’s a really unique experience and a welcomed one for those us who feel like we’re being prepared to play at the next level.”

Following the two BYU captains’ interviews, they reconvened with the rest of their team and got in a proper warmup before taking to the field to face-off with the purple and gold wearing Dawgs. BYU put up a valiant effort, losing by a close score of 11-13. They rebounded superbly by absolutely destroying their day’s final opponent, Oregon State, by a whopping margin of 13-3. 

“I’m so proud of this team, not just for how much they achieved on the field but also for how much each player has grown and embraced their roles on our team,” said coach Kendra. “We made school history by making it to the Regional round. This is an amazing accomplishment! Especially when you consider we were without one of our top players for this Northwest Regional Tournament. Making it here, earning wins against Montana and Oregon State, and battling to the very end vs. Oregon and Washington… there’s so much for these ladies to be proud of.” 

Upon the completion of BYU’s season, Kendra now shifts her focus from coaching collegiately to airbending on the most prestigious platform ultimate has to offer, Team USA. After an extensive series of workouts and qualifications where she performed with the nation’s best ultimate players, she was named to the 24-woman roster who will competing at the upcoming World Ultimate Championships hosted in Australia this summer. 

Heritage Hawks golf team shines at Tri-Districts


By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

On Wednesday, May 14, the Tulalip Heritage High School golf team hosted the 2b/1b Tri-District Golf Tournament for the first time at Tulalip’s Battle Creek Golf Course. The weather was perfect as 62 girls and boys, including Tulalip Heritage seniors Tieriana Mclean and Lincoln Pablo, competed, aiming to qualify for the highly anticipated WIAA State Tournament.

To qualify for the 18-hole match, boys needed to shoot under 55 and girls under 65 on the first nine holes. This target posed no problem for Pablo as he managed to stay in the top 3 at the turn. Although he lost a few strokes on hole ten, Pablo maintained his composure, rallied back, and finished the match with a score of 89. With this score, Pablo would finish tenth out of 34, making the 17-spot cut-off and stamping his ticket to the state tournament. 

“Last year, I made tri-districts, but it didn’t go well,” Pablo said. “This year, I worked hard to improve. On hole 5, I hit a great approach shot from the tee box and put the ball within 120 yards of the green. Then I took my nine-iron and hit the ball about 8 yards from the pin, finishing the hole with a par. This tournament has been amazing; the growth I have seen in myself over the last couple of years has been incredible. My family here supporting me has been wonderful.”

With some fantastic shots, Mclean kept it close to the players on the leaderboard. One such shot was on hole number 6, where Mclean sank a ten-foot-plus shot to save a bogey. With a par on hole 9, Mclean would end the front nine with a 54, battling for a tournament spot on the back nine. After a rough start and putting up a 13 on hole 13, Mclean dug deep, strung together a few suitable holes, and shot a 112, putting herself in 12th place out of 28 contestants, placing in the top 14 ultimately qualifying for the state tournament.

Coaches J.T. and Dinesha Kane closely followed the players. Playing on Tulalip’s home turf was a bonus. 

J.T. said, “It was a big doing bringing the tournament to Tulalip. We wanted to be the hub for the tournament because we wanted the teams from down south and up north to meet us on our tribe and represent our inaugural season. We’ve worked hard; our kids are ready to show that we are a golf high school and community.”

When asked what he was most proud of, J.T. remarked, “Mindset; if I had one word, it would be mindset. Their ability to overcome the course’s multiple obstacles was remarkable and I can’t wait to see what they have at state.”

The match at Battle Creek Golf Course showcased the talent and determination of the Tulalip Heritage golf team. The team’s ability to host and compete at such a high level marks a significant achievement for Heritage and sets a new standard for the school’s golf program, ensuring that the team will be formidable in future tournaments.

Bringing  the competition at the  Annual Canoe Races

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Over the May 4th weekend, the chilly and wet weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of diverse and determined canoe pullers. Hailing from various tribes across Canada, Washington, and Oregon, they gathered at Tulalip Bay to compete in Tulalip’s 2024 Annual Canoe Races. With more than 70 talented contestants from different tribes putting their skills to the test, the air was thick with anticipation, enthusiasm, and tension. Competitors were determined to leave it all on the water and earn a chance to claim the coveted trophy and cash prizes that awaited the champions.

The races were a testament to strength and teamwork. The excitement was palpable as contestants paddled out and lined up between the buoy and the line judge, eagerly awaiting the sound of the horn. The atmosphere was charged with the sea’s smell and the waves crashing against the shore. It was a breathtaking sight as the massive wooden vessels would take a few pulls to gain momentum. Still, once everyone was in sync, they would gracefully glide through the water towards precisely placed buoys throughout the bay until crossing the finish line, with the cheers of the spectators echoing in their ears.

“I have been in canoe races for 30 years,” Nooksack’s Russell Roberts said. “I love seeing everyone coming out and working together. Also, getting all the youth out here to participate is a blessing. That’s why me and my brother’s canoes are made up of kids. It means a lot to have these races. My grandfather is the one who got the family started. He’s been gone for quite a few years now, and we hope we can continue his legacy for my kids and, hopefully, my grandkids.

This year’s Tulalip canoe races saw more youth participants than adults, indicating a growth in the sport’s ability to bridge traditional practices with changing times. With four different age groups to participate in, kids of all ages were able to embrace the elements and try their might on the bay.

11-year-old Kora from Nooksack said, “I have been participating for five years. You have to make sacrifices to be able to participate in the races. It takes a lot of time and dedication to get good, keep up, and even win. My favorite part of this weekend was being on the water with my cousins. I say for all the new people who want to try it out, have fun, and be ready for anything.”

The water offered many challenges, each presenting an opportunity for personal growth. Lavarian Webster, a 19-year-old from Cultus Lake, Chilliwack, BC, seized these opportunities, participating in over ten races. His journey is a testament to the transformative power of these races, as he harnessed his skills and pushed his limits.

“My favorite part about this weekend has been getting back out to the races and hanging out with everybody,” Webster said. “This is my third season of racing, and I feel like I got off to a good start. Keeping the canoes alive and on the water is important to the native people. Having an event like this gives people from different villages a chance to get involved with one another. It was a great weekend, and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”
Despite the cloudy and sunless weather, the competitors persevered and showed their tenacity in canoe racing. The determination and passion demonstrated by the competitors were truly inspiring. It reminded us that even when faced with adverse conditions, we can still achieve greatness if we keep pushing forward. As Russell Roberts said, “It’s just what we do!”

As the final echoes of paddles cutting through water fade into the distance, the 2024 Annual Canoe Races at Tulalip Bay leave behind more than just the thrill of competition. They serve as a reminder of the resilience, unity, and cultural pride shared among Indigenous communities across the region. Beyond the trophy and prizes, the true victory lies in the bonds forged, the traditions upheld, and the memories created on the waters of Tulalip Bay. 

High-flying action on the hardwood


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In a true testament to youth-led organizing, Heritage High School recently hosted an action packed, exhibition game between local law enforcement and the school’s boys basketball team. 

Fresh off a deep playoff run that yielded impressive Ws in Districts, Tri-Districts and Regionals, senior forward Damon Pablo wanted to keep the team’s momentum and positive vibes going. His insistence led to the creation of a friendly game that brought tribal teenagers, police officers, and community together at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium.

“I first got this idea after hearing about the Heroes and Hoops event held back in December at Marysville Getchell, which had police officers and fire fighters from Marysville playing against one other to benefit Toys 4 Tots,” explained 18-year-old Damon. “A requirement as a Heritage student is to come with three projects a year, and it’s often said we should try to create projects based on things we like to do. One of the main things I like to do is play basketball, and I know our community likes to come out and cheer us on when we play, so, yeah, that’s where the inspiration came from.”

With the assistance of TPD Officer Mike Carrington, Damon coordinated a friendly game of basketball between Tulalip’s local crime fighters and his fellow high school teammates on their home floor. Friends and family of both teams sat in the bleachers and were treated to an exciting back and forth game that was just the right amount of competitive.

Team TPD played to their strengths, which was having the height and weight advantage of actual grown man bodies. They were intentional about getting the ball into the post and attacking the glass for offensive rebounds that would lead to put back opportunities. They also had the services of Officer Phil Powers who is well versed in the art of sharpshooting from behind the 3-point arc. Team TPD jumped out to a 9-0 lead that they stretched to 14-3 midway through the opening quarter.

The Hawks would storm back behind a 3-point barrage, led by freshmen phenom Amare Hatch. He was impossible to miss while wearing a festive pair of Easter bunny ears and routinely splashing jump shots over one, two, and sometimes three defenders. His scoring prowess helped his teenager team take the lead, 30-26. However, it would be short lived as Team TPD finished the half on a 7-0 run to regain the lead, 33-28, at halftime. 

“It’s my first time ever playing in a game like this and, to be honest, it’s really fun. I’m enjoying splashing threes over the cops,” shared freshman guard Amare during intermission. “I’m wearing the bunny ears for the little kids in the stands. Every time I make a shot and turn towards the fan section, I can see kids cheering and smiling. Seeing their smiles makes me enjoy life a lot more.”

In the 2nd half, the high-flying Hawks executed their brand of rez ball to near perfection. Running and gunning, forcing steals, and showing off their seemingly endless supply of energy. For their effort, they held their largest lead of the game, 57-43, with only five minutes of game action left.

Down by 14 points, Team TPD refused to call it quits. Instead, to the delight of fans who desired a buzzer-beating finish, they went on a heroic 16-3 run to get within just a single point with only 50 seconds remaining.

With the pressure mounting and possession of the ball, the Hawks ran the shot clock all the way to ensure make or miss their opponents would have minimal time to pull off the comeback. When Damon’s 3-pointer rimmed out, Team TPD secured one final possession with only seconds to go. They looked to get a transition bucket, but the Hawks defense got back, seamlessly triple-teamed the police ballhandler, and forced a super contested shot that nearly went in. 

The Hawks collected the defensive rebounder and the final buzzer sounded. They reveled in a hard fought 60-59 W that resulted in one last standing applause from their adoring fans as they exchanged high-fives with Team TPD.

“In so many ways, these positive interactions with the youth are beneficial to our shared Tulalip community,” said Chief of Police Chris Sutter after the game. “Building trust for effective community policing starts with our officers being seen as humans, not just an officer with a badge. Today, the kids and community witnessed a friendly game of basketball that got the competitive juices flowing, but at all times was respectful and lighthearted. 

“We definitely would like to see more events like this where our officers can connect and engage with the youth over shared interests. These types of events also serve as the best way to inspire and empower the next generation to pursue careers in law enforcement,” added Chief Sutter. 

The late Francy J. Sheldon, for whom the Heritage court is named, would agree wholeheartedly with Chief Sutter’s perceptive. A well-known advocate for everything athletics, Francy excelled at sports as a young man before passing on his decades of experience through coaching. Later in life, Francy proudly answered the call to serve his community as Chief of Police; something that he spoke of proudly to the next generation that he continued to coach well into his twilight years.

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.

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.

Lady Hawks season ends with near miracle comeback

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After narrowly losing to Orcas Island, 29-34, in a defensive battle in their opening game of the NW1B District playoffs, the Tulalip girls hosted their crosstown rival Grace Academy on Tuesday, February 6, in a loser-out game. In front of a horde of their devout fans, the Lady Hawks took to the Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium hardwood with full knowledge of the stakes: win and advance, lose and go home. 

In their two regular season matchups, Tulalip bested Grace 33-27 and 41-29, which gave the home team a boost of confidence seeing the same opponent a third time. That confidence showed on Tulalip’s opening possession when Audrielle McLean splashed a 3-pointer on her first touch and gave her team a 3-0 lead. It showed when moments later Lilly Jefferson shot a midrange jumper that banked in. Those 5 early points would be all the Lady Hawks could muster for a long while though, as Grace implemented a 3-2 zone that stifled Tulalip’s perimeter-oriented offense. 

Trailing 5-11 midway in the 2nd quarter, sophomore forward Raylee Lewis battled for an offensive rebound and was rewarded with a put-back bucket. The 5’5” Raylee again snatched a rebound away from Grace’s nearly 6-foot center, and put up a super quick layup off the glass before any defenders could contest. Her two buckets were the Lady Hawks only ones in the 2nd quarter.

Fast forward to early in the 3rd quarter, Tulalip trailed 11-25 and things began to look bleak. The transition game that the girls made their bread and butter on all season was nonexistent, and to make matters worse their senior guard Tieriana McLean was out for the remainder of the game with a wrist injury. They also had no answer for Grace’s center Candice Mugo who resembled Shaq with her dominating presence in the paint.

BUT, and it’s a big but, the beauty of sports is sometimes miracles happen. Epic comebacks. Catastrophic collapses. And whether or not any one thought they could actually come back against such undesirable circumstances, junior guard Audrielle did. At least her play conveyed that.

From late in the 3rd quarter to midway through the 4th, her teammates fought for every loose ball, did their best to corral every rebound and force turnovers, and each time they got another possession, they’d immediately look for Audrielle and pass her the ball. She turned into a true solo artist on offense. Splashing one deep 3-pointer after another. Each met with a louder and louder cheer from the home crowd. After her sixth made 3 ball, the Lady Hawks had clawed their way back to get within one possession of Grace, 28-30, with just under 2:00 left.

Comeback almost nearly complete, the Lady Hawks got a few quality looks in the games final seconds, but they would rim out. Grace would feed their post monster, who scored on their next two possessions, and that was a wrap. Tulalip lost on their home floor 28-35, ending their season.

Audrielle finished with 19 points, Raylee added 6 points, Lilly scored 2 points, and Isabelle score 1 point. 

“This season was my first time ever playing basketball,” shared 15-year-old Raylee after the game. “I’ve got a lot of cousins on the team and they were the ones who convinced me to play. My coaches and teammates kept telling me how much I was improving practice after practice and game after game. Looking back at how far I’ve come from the beginning to now, it really did mean so much to play on this team and in front of so many fans from the community. I’m not known as a scorer, so with this being our last game, it was actually real exciting to get some buckets with my parents and grandparents in the stands.”

Hawks get gigantic W over Mt. Vernon Christian

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Hawks hit the road and travelled north for a matchup with the Hurricanes of Mt. Vernon Christian. A 3rd round game of Districts with a chance to play in the 1st/2nd place game, Tulalip’s adoring fans hit the road, too, and actually outnumbered the Hurricanes fans in their own building.

A tense atmosphere in the early going as both teams traded buckets to notch it at 7-7. With chants of “Defense!”, the boys turned up their defensive intensity and forced the Hurricanes to play out of their comfort zone. Tulalip got their transition game going and continued to force the tempo to run up a 28-21 lead at halftime.

Midway in the 3rd quarter, freshman guard J.J. Gray caught fire from deep and swished in three straight 3’s to push his team’s 43-31. With 3:00 in the 3rd quarter, the Hurricane’s called timeout to attempt to settle their team, but instead were met with a devastating chant of “Tulalip Power!” from the unrelenting visiting fans. 

In the 4th quarter, the game tightened up and the usual shots for the Hawks weren’t falling. The Hurricanes finally started to execute their offense and flipped the turnover script by getting Tulalip to force errant pass after errant pass. The boys watched their 12 point lead vanish and were suddenly trailing 43-44 with three minutes to go. 

Freshman guard Amare Hatch finally put an end to his team’s scoring drought by coming up with a steal and scoring a contested layup. Moments later he’d splash a 3 that put his team up for good, 48-45. Just for good measure, senior forward Hazen Shopbell, instead of holding the ball and waiting for the Hurricanes to foul him, opted to shoot a 3 of his own and join in on the long ball party. Fortunately, it went in to the delight and uproar of his teammates and all the Tulalip fans who knew the W was secured. 

The Hawks 52-46 win means no less than 2nd place in Districts. They’ll again hit the road, this time for Lummi Nation, for a matchup with the Blackhawks on February 8. 

Hawks soar over Concrete Lions

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Heritage boys basketball team finished a hard fought regular season with a (12-6) record. Having won seven of their final eight games, the Hawks earned a high seed in the NW1B District playoffs and the right to host a playoff game.

            On Saturday, February 3, family and friends lined the bleachers of Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium to cheer on their local teenage hoopers as they hosted the (7-14) Concrete Lions. This would be the third meeting between Tulalip and Concrete, with both getting a W on their home court previously.

It was a pressure-filled 1st quarter as the Hawks came out tight in the opening minutes of their first playoff game. Senior guard Chano Guzman did his best to set the tone offensively with his usual attacking style. He knocked down two 3-pointers and three middy’s to score 12 points in the 1st. With 2:15 to play in the 1st quarter, the score was tied 14-14. The Lions were able to keep pace by hitting 3-pointers of their own and capitalizing on their bigger front-line players securing offensive rebounds and put back buckets.

Concrete continued their overachieving play to take their first lead of the game 20-18 early in the 2nd quarter. It would be a super short-lived lead though as it seemed to spark Tulalip’s competitive fire. Fueled by their unrelenting pressure defensively, the boys forced Concrete into one turnover after another. Each seemingly leading to transition layup or high percentage shot. Six Hawks players scored down the stretch before halftime, then freshman guard J.J. Gray caught fire in the 2nd half. 

After the Hawks went down 18-20 early in the 2nd quarter, they used stifling defense and a diverse offensive attack to go an incredible 38-8 run that spanned to late in the 3rd quarter. Now up big 56-28, head coach Shawn Sanchey used the comfortable lead to insert his bench to the cheer of the crowd. 

Nearly every shot by a reserve player received a little roar of anticipation from the crowd and benched starters, who were more than eager to see their brethren get a playoff bucket. Final score was a whopping 72-49 win. The Hawks were led in scoring by J.J.’s 25 points and Chano’s 22 points, while seven of their teammates also got into the box score. 

After the game, Coach Shawn shared his thoughts on the playoff W. “Having played Concrete twice before, we had a good idea on what we’d see from them and which areas we really needed to prioritize. The first two games, we weren’t at full strength either, so that was a benefit this time around knowing we were at full strength.

“It was impressive to see one of our senior leaders on the team, Chano, rise to the occasion early with his on-ball defense and timely buckets. He’s been a part of our Heritage program for a few years now and has the experience needed to keep our team together in tough moments and set the tone for us.”

Lastly, Coach Shawn added the significance of his starters taking control of the game and building the big lead so that their teammates could get some court time. “I tell the boys every game that they owe to the game and their team to work hard each quarter so the whole team gets a chance to play. Everyone, starters and bench players, works super hard and grinds every practice to get us here, so it’s only fair that we work hard in games like this to get our whole team some court time.”

Hawks and Lady Hawks enter playoff mode

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It’s been a roller coaster like season for the Lady Hawks. This up and down, twist and turn filled ride is most evident by their final two home games.

On Saturday, January 27, Tulalip hosted fellow tribal school Taholah at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium. We’ll save the disastrous details and simply refer to this one as a game to forget as the Lady Hawks found themselves on the wrong end of an 83-11 thumping. 

Forty-eight hours later, the girls rebounded in a huge way when Shoreline Christian came to town on Monday, January 29.  A slow-paced opening quarter yielded buckets by Tieriana, Audrielle, Raylee, and Kendra who combined to put their team ahead, 9-4.

Over the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the Lady Hawks found their groove in an emphatic way. With the McLean sisters spearheading the attack, the home team got the crowd into a frenzy by forcing Shoreline to turn the ball over and over again. Each time resulted in a transition opportunity for either an Audrielle layup or a Tieriana 3-pointer.

Entering the 4th quarter, Tulalip led 37-17. Kendra, a senior forward, continued to battle multiple Shoreline players to secure rebounds which opened up uncontested shot attempts for her teammates. When only being single covered, she’d use her size advantage to shoot over the smaller defender. 

To the delight of all the friends and family who turned out for senior night, the Lady Hawks bounced back the Taholah loss with a 52-24 W. Audrielle led all scorers with 22 points, her big sister scored 18 points, and Kendra added 8 points.

After the game, senior guard Tieriana shared, “Being senior night, there was a lot of pressure to perform and get the win. Usually when I miss shots early in the game, I quit shooting late, but that didn’t happen today. I kept shooting and, especially in that 3rd quarter, I got hot. [Steph Curry hot]. After our tough loss to Taholah, we really needed this game and we got it.”

When was asked how much it meant to get this W for her sister on senior night, junior guard Audrielle quipped, “I don’t know. A lot!” Fair enough. She then added, “This win boosts our confidence with playoffs coming up. That’s for sure.”

As of January 31, the WIAA website showed the Tulalip Lady Hawks earning a play-in bye, which sets them up with a Saturday, February 3, showdown with Orcas Island at Orcas Island high school. Tip scheduled for 12:30pm.


Hawks secure #2 seed with back-to-back Ws at home

The Tulalip Heritage Hawks were riding a 4-game winning streak when they faced off with Taholah on Saturday, January 27. The gym was near full capacity with some people going so far as to bring in chairs from staff offices in order to sit down. Playing another tribal school always adds some extra juice to players on the court and fans sitting courtside.

The boys mauled their opponent from the get go, jumping out to a 20-9 after one quarter of play. Playing their patented style of run-and-gun offense, fueled by forcing turnovers, would wear on Taholah’s starters as the game went along. 

While Heritage dictated tempo, freshman guard J.J. Gray carved up the Taholah defense at every opportunity. At halftime, J.J. had 19 points and nearly outscored the visitors by himself as the home team led 37-19.

In the second half, Chano Guzman, Tokala BlackTomahawk, and Amare Hatch would score an array of buckets from within the painted area and along the perimeter to put the game away.

The Hawk’s extended their winning streak to 5 with a 67-45 win. Tulalip was led by J.J.’s 22 points, while Tokala scored 13 points, and both Chano and Amare had 11 points each.

“Our practices have been improving, our team energy is going up, and our mentality is getting right,” remarked senior guard Chano of the team’s win streak.

“All the fans filling the gym and their energy we definitely feed off,” added freshman guard J.J.

Tulalip thrived in their home court advantage, once again, just two days later when they hosted Shoreline Christian. Head coach Shawn Sanchey, a Heritage alum and four-year hooper, understood the importance of senior night for his squad and trotted out an all-senior lineup.

Senior forward Hazen Shopbell Jr. responded to the starting nod by knocking down a midrange jumper and then swishing a 3-pointer. Up 5-0 in the early going, Coach Sanchey called timeout to get his normal starters into the game and his seniors a rousing ovation as they hit the bench. Shoreline responded by going on a run of their own and took a short-lived lead, 5-6.

Once Tulalip’s offense found its normal tempo, it was a wrap. At the end of the 1st quarter, the boys led 16-11. By the end 2nd quarter, that lead was pushed to 29-19. There was some contentious moments, fueled by physical play by both teams and the heightened tension from a packed house, but it proved to only fuel contributions from Tokala BlackTomahawk and Amare Hatch.

Tokala scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers, and Amare scored 18 points, including three 3-pointers, that kept the Hawks rowdy fanbase in classic form while the home team secured another W, 59-34.

With the winning streak now at 6 in a row, Coach Sanchey described how much the big night meant to his boys.

“Senior night is really important to the kids. I still remember my senior night and how much it meant to have all the support in the stands, rooting us on,” he said. “Staring five seniors allowed for them take in the moment and hopefully share in an experience they’ll never forget. And they responded, too, by helping us to the early lead. 

“Of course, there were some moments of adversity late in the 1st half, but my coaching staff has prepared them for moments like that. We emphasize fighting through adversity, keeping the motor going, and not letting anything dictate what we know we’re capable of achieving on the court. They really showed that resilient mindset tonight. I’m really proud of all our players.” 

As of January 31, the WIAA website showed the Tulalip Hawks earning the right to host a home playoff game in the opening round of Districts. Game time and opponent yet to be determined. However, it will be played at Francy J. Sheldon gymnasium on Saturday, February 3.