Poarch NAYO team competes in tourney

Published 6:26 am Friday, April 1, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
With the excitement of the NCAA Tournament swirling throughout the country, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians recently participated in their own brand of March Madness.
The Native American Youth Organization (NAYO) held its annual basketball tournament this past weekend at the Choctaw Reservation in Philadelphia, Miss. A team comprised of Poarch Creek Indians made the five-hour trek to compete against other teams from Indian tribes from Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, and Minnesota. There were 32 boy's teams and 25 girl's teams competing from Thursday through Sunday.
Mitchell Hughes, Recreation Director for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, said it had been a fun trip for the team.
"We had a good time," Hughes said Monday. "We got to stay in one of the Pearl River Resorts, the Golden Moon on the Choctaw Reservation."
Josh Turner, a junior at Northview High School, who traveled to Mississippi with the team, agreed with Hughes' assessment.
"It was real fun," he said. "We got to stay in a really nice hotel. It was fun just being there and seeing all those teams and competing against them."
The Poarch team played three games in the tournament, all three of which were played Friday. The team picked up one win in the tournament, defeating the Rez Unit, a Choctaw team. That win was sandwiched by losses to the Seminole Tribe from Brighton, Fla. and the Express of the Seneca Tribe out of New York.
Hughes felt his team had played well considering the circumstances.
"We played a lot better than we have in the past," he said. "We played lots of tribes with their own schools and their own teams that are always together. Our guys practiced for about two weeks and then went up there, so I think we did well considering the amount of practice time we had."
Turner and Matthew McGhee, another member of the Poarch team, agreed with Hughes.
"We did the best with who we have," Turner said. "A lot of teams had a lot more practice time than we did."
"We wouldn't have won any games if we hadn't played like a team," McGhee said. "It was an exciting experience, though."
Turner, point guard for the Poarch NAYO team, felt the team would fare better next year.
"I think we'll be more prepared next year," Turner said. "I'll know what we need to do to prepare and the things we need to work on to compete better."
McGhee, who averaged eight points per game during the tournament, was proud of the way he played during the tournament.
"I was able to get a lot of rebounds," the power forward said. "I felt like I played pretty well."
Hughes had several people he wanted to thank.
"Rodney Exum was our head coach," he said. "He had been assisted throughout all the practices by Trenton Daughtry, Nick Hill, and Mal McGhee; but all three of them were unable to go to the tournament. I'd like to thank all of them for their hard work. I'd also like to thank Robbie and Daniel McGhee for giving up their extended weekend to help chaperone over the weekend."
The Poarch NAYO team consisted of Turner, McGhee, Jerry Sanchez, Jacob McGhee, Greg McGhee, Robert Howard, Paul Howard, Allen Smith, Skylar Rolin, and James White.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox