Find out where the small community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut gets its outsized basketball talent

“Cambridge Bay is not the biggest community, but we have the biggest heart,” says Peter Ohokanoak, head coach of the Cambridge Bay girls basketball team.

Players from this community make up half of the Arctic Winter Games basketball team rosters

Kanen Evalik, left, and Linda Howard are two Cambridge Bay basketball players going to the Arctic Winter Games next week. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

The community of Cambridge Bay may be the fifth largest in Nunavut, but it's producing some some mega basketball talent. Half of the players selected to play basketball for Team Nunavut in the Arctic Winter Games call the community, with a population of approximately 1,700, home.

"Cambridge Bay is not the biggest community, but we have the biggest heart," said Peter Ohokanoak, head coach of the Cambridge Bay girls basketball team.

According to Ohokanoak, residents recently organized a men's league in order to build talent among the boy's Wolverines team.

"They're always playing people that are older, stronger, better than them," he said.

Linda Howard has been playing basketball for more than eight years in the community. On top of being captain of the girls Wolverines team, she plays in the men's league.

This Arctic Winter Games — her fourth — will also be her last.

She says players from her community have been dominant in basketball for a long as she can remember, and credits not only good programming, but strong community interest.

Parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles cousins, everyone's talking about it.- Linda Howard

"It's all over Facebook, all over social media," she said.

"The parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, everyone's talking about it — talking about the tournaments. I think I'm confident enough to say the whole community is behind us."

Ohokanoak agrees — he said an ever-increasing amount of people are showing up to watch games.

Kanen Evalik has been playing playing basketball for eight years. He says his team is much stronger today than it was just two years ago.

"We all progressed, we all gained more skill, more knowledge of the game," he said.

Evalik plays basketball to make friends, and gain a "brotherhood."

"We know each other in and out of the court," he said.

"We know where each other are going to be … we know what they're capable of."

The players are heading to the South Slave region of the N.W.T. next week to compete in the Arctic Winter Games, which runs March 18 to 24.

With files from Jimmy Thomson