Local club basketball team takes 3rd in tournament

Missing basketball? Join the club.

Pictured are assistant coach Ethan Billings, Cambry Lockhart, Gwen Nizich, Nadia Wilson, Cailynn Baxter, Alayna Echiverri, Kerra Baxter, Tatum Billings, Layla Tokuoka, Bergen Erickson and coach Tanya Nizich. (Courtesy Photo / Haley Tokuoka)

Pictured are assistant coach Ethan Billings, Cambry Lockhart, Gwen Nizich, Nadia Wilson, Cailynn Baxter, Alayna Echiverri, Kerra Baxter, Tatum Billings, Layla Tokuoka, Bergen Erickson and coach Tanya Nizich. (Courtesy Photo / Haley Tokuoka)

In light of a canceled middle school girls basketball season, coach Tanya Nizich and assistant coach Ethan Billings organized a club team.

The team consisted of sixth through eighth grade students, and the idea to form a club team came about when a group of girls was shooting hoops at the Alaska Club, Nizich said in a phone interview.

“We just wanted to make it right for them,” Nizich said, adding that the team was a way to continue the young athletes’ basketball development.

Team Juneau included Tatum Billings, Kerra Baxter, Cailynn Baxter, Nadia Wilson, Alayna Echiverri, Cambry Lockhart, Gwen Nizich, Bergen Erickson and Layla Tokuoka.

The club team found locations to practice, Nizich said in an email, and played against the junior varsity and C teams from Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. The team played 26 games in three months.

The team attended three tournaments in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley area against Alaska elite teams and scrimmages against the Wasilla C team, according to Nizich. The team was funded by parents.

In the most recent tournament, the club team placed third out of nine teams, and the club may not be done playing just yet. Nizich said while other sports seasons are now encroaching on the time team members have for club basketball, another tournament or two in the Mat-Su may be in the cards.

“The hope is maybe we can continue on with this group a couple more times,” Nizich.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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