Written by Perry Lilley
At the Gold Crown Plaza in Denver, Colo., a total of 199 games were to be played in three days for Denver’s All West Native American Basketball Classic. In 1986, Mark Ulmer and Dom Ness, H.U.D. employees, started the tournament. Ulmer died and his parents started a foundation in his honor.
The Mark Ulmer Scholarship gives $4,000 over four years to four eligible players every tournament.
There were teams from 12 states and Canada in the tournament. Out of those, 40 were made up of girls. I had the privilege and opportunity to coach Montana’s finest basketball players, the Fort Peck Tribes’ girls’ team.
There were six pools from AA to FF, according to wins, losses and point spread. This determined whether a team went into the gold or silver bracket, with gold being the better teams. Fort Peck opened up and began the tournament with an incredible impact, going 3-0.
Through hard work, determination, and persistence, they secured themselves a spot in the gold division. It was a team effort and the girls stepped up for the challenge. They ruled with an iron fist on both sides of the court – offensively and defensively.
After many hard fought games, the team placed 4th out of 40 teams.
Helping make the trip possible were Fort Peck Housing, Olivia Headdress, Wayne Weeks, Brock Copenhaver, Leslie and Terrence Gourneau and Fort Peck Transportation for the bus driver.
Members of the Fort Peck girls team were Jesse Bauer, Kylie Driftwood, Mariah Weeks, Emma Gourneau, Callen Gourneau, Lena Chamberlain and Whitney Corcoran.