by RENALDO DORSETT
They fell short in the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association playoffs, but the CC Sweeting Cobras peaked at the right time of the year and thrived where their programme often does, the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic.
The Cobras claimed their third title in four years with a 67-61 win over the CI Gibson Rattlers last night at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
It was the fourth Hugh Campbell title in school history for the Cobras.
Michael Bethel led the Cobras with a double double, 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Jamal Simon finished with 12 points and five rebounds, Adrian Thompson added 10 points and Derontae Brown chipped in with nine.
Shakwon Lewis led the Rattlers with 17 points, eight assists and four steals, Michael Sweeting added 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Johnley Noel finished with 11 points.
Cobras head coach Mario Bowleg said he expected a hard fought matchup between the two intense rivals.
“We know it was not going to be easy. We are a long rivaled two teams. KJ did some adjustments based on what we did in the game two days ago but we made some adjustments half time as well. Thank God for the victory the guys played hard and they deserved it. This is our third trip in four years so that says alot about the programme. We have nine returning players so we look good for next year.”
In a game where neither team led by more than eight points, the Cobras overcame an early fourth quarter deficit with an 11-0 run.
After going 0-11 from three, Noel opened the fourth with a three pointer and a 48-44 lead, but in a game of runs, the Cobras would predictably come back.
A Simon runner tied it at 50, but Lewis made the Rattlers second three pointer of the game when he banked it home for a 53-50 lead.
The Cobras trailed 55-52, but a layup from Bethel was the first field goal on the run that saw them eventually go ahead 63-55 with 1:40 left to play.
The Rattlers would claw their way back into the game and come within two, 63-61 after Noel made a pair at the line, but failed to score the equaliser.
The Rattlers got the steal they wanted with just under 20 seconds left to play, but turned it over on the trip up court, which led to an easy fastbreak for the Cobras and sealed the win.
In the opening quarter, Lewis set the tone early with a steal and fastbreak layup for the first score of the game.
The Rattlers took a 9-6 lead on Lewis baseline jumper and Sweeting, who was much more aggressive than in the elite eight round, scored driving layup to give CI a 13-6 lead.
A timely three pointer from Thompson late in the quarter to keep the Cobras in it, but Lewis would make a pair at the line on the ensuing possession.
The Rattlers led 15-10 after one.
The second quarter opened with a flurry as Simon scored a layup, Brown hit a three pointer, Corey Sands made a layup and just like that, the Cobras 7-0 run gave them a 17-15 lead early in the period.
Sweeting finally broke the drought for the Rattlers with a tip in.
The Cobras eventually scored on nine consecutive possessions of the quarter and took a 27-19 lead at the 2:49 mark.
A seven point lead trimmed to two once the Rattlers were able to fastbreak.
Seraphin rebounded a missed free throw took it coast to coast to tie the game at 27 followed by Lewis with a steal and layup to regain the lead for Rattlers, 29-27.
A Braithe Ferguson tip in just before buzzer gave CI Gibson a 31-29 lead at the half
In the third, Brown gave the Cobras the lead when he made a pair at the line, 34-33.
Thompson with his second three pointer of the game, and after a Michael Bethel free throw, Delmar Hamilton tacked on another three for a 41-35 lead.
Back to back layups from Seraphin and Lewis tied the game at 43 with 1:18 left to play in the quarter.
Stephon Johnson sank two at the line to give CI Gibson a 45-44 lead headed into the final frame.
“It was a tough loss for my guys,” said Rattlers head coach Kevin Johnson, “We missed too many easy layups down the stretch. CC capitalised on those missed layups and that determined the outcome of the game. My guys are sad and disappointed right now but I’m proud of the job they did this year.”
Bowleg led the Cobras to consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013, before the Rattlers won the invitational in 2014.