Basketball team helps community while raising tournament funds - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Basketball team helps community while raising tournament funds

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TOPPENISH, Wash. -- The Yakama Nation basketball team already has one national championship this year. Now they have their sights set on another tournament. The team  features a group of high school basketball friends and rivals who became the ultimate team.

"They're not selfish. They're actually a group. They put their selfishness on the side," said Coach Everett Howe. That unselfishness not only won them a championship at the Native American Basketball Invitational, but the entire team won the MVP award. After that tournament they were invited to another one in Hawaii.

The team chose one way to raise money for the trip by teaching basketball to children in the tribe. "We want to give back to the community because the community has our back during the season. So we want to give back to the little kids and most of the parents," said Team Yakama Nation player Jacoby Howe. Coach Howe told his players, "Whether you guys like it or not, you guys are role models for these kids, and this is a good opportunity to show your talents and that you care for the game and show these little kids coming up how to play."

The team asked for anything parents could give to help pay for the upcoming tournament, but coach Howe wants to mature his players on hard work and teamwork. Team Yakama Nation player Joel Yellow Owl said this day was about the children. "Really we're just focusing more on the kids and stuff, you know, because they look up to all of us, you know, each and every one of us, and we just got to focus on them more. It ain't just about the money right now," Yellow Owl said.

They will bring that team mentality to Hawaii where they hope to win yet another tournament championship.