The Government Secondary School Sports Association concluded its basketball championships in all for divisions this weekend, with a historic win for one programme while others continued their dominance of recent years:
Anatol Rodgers T’Wolves – 62
CC Sweeting Cobras – 48 ARH wins series 2-1
The newest team in the GSSSA made school history by claiming its first basketball title and closed out the series with a surprising blowout after two closely contested games.
T’Wolves Head Coach Harcourt McCoy called the win a sign of a changing of the guard in high school basketball, shifting away from the perennial powerhouses.
“The tide of change is coming. Believe it or not, those school that were the premiere schools, hard work is going to dethrone a lot of them.
Dominick Bridgewater was named the MVP and finished with 18 points and four assists while Tyriq Bain added a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. K’Jay Wilson and Kirklyn Farrington each added seven points.
Brandon Strachen led the Cobras with 18 points while Marco Beckford added 14 points and Kriston Munroe finished with six points and 10 rebounds.
Anatol Rodgers took game one of the series by double figures before CC Sweeting pulled off the upset in game two, setting the stage for a dominant finish in game three.
“We executed well. We looked at the tape and we saw the mistakes, turnovers, free throws and we didn’t capitalise on things we normally did. The first game we won by double digits, the second game they beat us by three and believe it or not I had a player that gave away six points in 10 seconds.
We always say we don’t complain about the referee or the other teams because we play against ourselves. We want to make sure that our effort is better than the last time we were on the floor,” McCoy said, “Its a been a number of years that we’ve been close and we’ve been in the conversation for a long time. I’ve been putting in a lot of work in terms of having camps, tournaments – I have a tournament I have been running for 12 years and we never won it – but I believe that as a coach with the hard work and dedicated players you can come out a winner. Our guys were able to come out and fight and get it done by establishing a good defensive strategy. Guys worked hard and we have tremendous school support. There was a sea of blue in the gym tonight.”
That defensive strategy led to an early advantage when they limited the Cobras to just three field goals in the first quarter en route to an 18-7 lead. They maintained a double digit lead throughout the game, 34-22 a the half and by 19 headed into the fourth quarter, 52-31. Attention now shifts to postseason tournaments where the GSSSA champions will look to contend against teams around the country.
“I have to give all honour and praise to the Lord above. It had nothing to do with me, we have quality players and quality school. We are trying to instill in them to have a good relationship with the Lord above. We have been blessed with a lot of things most people don’t have. We are just trying to capitalise on those blessings and our guys came out with it,” he said, “We know this is just GSSSA and we have more work to do. We know there are schools all over the country that will be looking at us now, St. George’s, Tabernacle, Sunland so we will have to prove ourselves again but we will be ready.”
DW Davis Royals – 55
AF Adderley Tigers – 47 DWD wins series 2-0
The Royals were virtually untouchable all season long and the championship series proved no different as the league’s most dominant team in recent years successfully defended their title.
Perennial contenders for the title, after losing a heartbreaking three-game series in 2015 to the HO Nash Lions, the Royals regained a familiar spot atop the league with back-to-back championship titles.
Roscoe Dean led the Royals with a game high 25 points and Maxin Francois added 13 points. The Royals backcourt of Kobe Wright and Kenvon Farrington combined for 11 assists.
Kemron Grey led the Tigers with 21 points, 11 of which came in the first quarter. Rayvon Pinder also scored 11.
After cruising to a double digit win in game one, the Tigers played inspired in game two and led by as much as four in the second quarter. At the end of the third, the Royals led 42-35 when Dean sank a pair of free throws with no time left on the clock.
The Royals led by just six midway through the third when Aaron Brown made a three from the right wing to push the lead to nine, 50-41 with just over four minutes left to play. The lead reach 10 a few plays later on another pair of free throws from Dean.
Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins – 33
CI Gibson Rattlers – 32 DDJ wins series 2-1
The defending GSSSA champions got major contributions from their bench to retain the title in the third and deciding game of the series.
Backup forward Kristan Sands went to the line and sank the go ahead free throw with 3.6 seconds left to play and after an errant halfcourt heave from the Rattlers came up short, the Mystic Marlins sealed back to back titles.
Tanea Bowleg led Doris Johnson with a team high 10 points, Kovanique Rolle added eight points and six rebounds, Thyrell Thompson finished with seven points and six rebounds and Briontae Riley grabbed a game high 10 boards.
Monica Cleary led the Rattlers with a game high 11 points, Rose Johnson had 10 points and 8 rebounds, and Latavia Braynen had five points, eight rebounds and five steals.
Johnson tied the game at 24 with a pair of free throws to set the stage for the final four minutes which featured several ties and lead changes.
Thompson grabbed the lead back for the Mystic Marlins with two at the line but the Rattlers would regain the lead with a three point play Braynen. The teams continued to trade scores until a 32 all tie remained for much of the last minute of the game and Sands’ free throws would decide it.
Last season the Mystic Marlins won the GSSSA Championship series and also won the Geneva Rutherford and National Tournaments hosted in Grand Bahama.
HO Nash Lions – 36
SC McPherson Sharks – 30 HON wins series 2-0
For the second consecutive year, these teams meet in the championship series and again it was Head Coach Pattie Johnson’s Lions at the top of the division.
Johnson added another title to her storied programme as the HO Nash Lions closed out the GSSSA junior girls’ championship series led by 16 points from Glennia Sands.
Sands made four three pointers on the afternoon, two in the third quarter during a key run as the Lions took control. Adalia Tucker also added eight points for the Lions.
Michelle Butler and Breanna Dean each finished with 10 points for the Sharks.
The teams played the first quarter to a 9-9 tie at the end of the first quarter. The Sharks would close the second on a 6-0 run, capped by a Dean layup, to take a 21-17 lead at the half.
Sands would score 10 points in the third, including threes on back-to-back possessions. She would outscore the Sharks in the period and the Lions clung to a 29-28 lead headed into the fourth.
The Sharks took a brief 30-29 lead but Calvanique Spense made the go ahead layup at the 4:05 mark as the Lions led for good and protected the advantage with free throws down the stretch.
“We struggled defensively, I don’t know what happened out there early on,” Johnson said. “We couldn’t get a stop, we couldn’t make a shot, but the girls were able to turn it around in the second half.”
Johnson’s Lions are perennial GSSSA contenders, even in rebuilding years.
“This one is especially sweet because we have many returning players to the team next year, so it’s important for them to know what this programme is built on and what we expect from it,” Johnson said.