Nassau vs. Freeport rivalry restored
It will be New Providence versus Grand Bahama after all.
The Sunland Baptist Stingers will represent Grand Bahama in the final of the 29th Annual Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic, tipping off at 8:00 p.m. tonight at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium. The Stingers team kept the Nassau versus Freeport rivalry alive with an 81-75 come-from-behind win over the C.I. Gibson Rattlers, which for the record, continued a streak of 14 straight trips to the Hugh Campbell Final Four.
As for the Stingers, they will now play the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association(GSSSA)Champions, the R.M. Bailey Pacers. Both teams advanced from the semi-final rounds last evening. The Pacers’win came over the C.C. Sweeting Cobras, 78-71.
Last evening’s game was the third consecutive come-from-behind win for the Stingers. As a result, the team’s Head Coach Bonnie Basden doesn’t want the Nassau-based fans to get too excited. She said her team can easily snatch the championship title away from the Pacers and take it back to Freeport.
She said: ”Our motto this whole tournament is don’t give up. All of our games we had to come from behind but we know going into the championships game, we cannot do that, but the last three games we played, we had come back from behind and fight. It is only through God and they fought like champions tonight. They played like warriors tonight.
“The fourth quarter, we were in foul trouble. I had two of my starters foul out of the game from in the third quarter and we had to go small. When we had to go small we decided to just match up man-to-man and the guys came through. They got rebounds, hit lay-ups and free throws tonight.”
The Rattlers team took control of the game from the opening tip and never let up in that quarter. Their dominance on both ends of the court was not helping the Stingers’cause neither. The Rattlers built on their momentum and quickly added points to the scoreboard, but their aggressive play led to early foul trouble and helped the Stingers get back in the game. The Stingers were able to cut into the lead from free throw line, and by the end of the first quarter, the 10-point lead which the Rattlers held in the opening minutes was down to three.
The Rattlers would return to expand the lead in the second. The team added five points to their score, a three-pointer and two from a lay-up. Midway through that quarter was when the Stingers scored their first point of the quarter. The point, from the free throw line, was followed by an 18-foot jump shot.
The Freeport-based school applied full court pressure forcing the Rattlers to turn the ball over on the inbounds pass. They were unable to convert. On the next end of the court, the Rattlers netted a long jumper, extending the lead to seven. The Stingers responded with a steal and a lay-up.
The quick hands and slashing move by Andre Sands created havoc in the Rattlers’defense. Sands was sent to the free throw line, and hit both free shots.
A technical foul was called on the other end of the court, on Delano Forbes, sending Sands back to the line. Sands converted on the free throws, tying the game at 27-27. The lead changed three times after that before the half concluded with the Stingers ahead by one point.
“We came out a little rough around the edges,”said Sands.”Maybe our adrenaline was not pumping at the time but as the game progressed, we began playing better. We began playing as unit and getting shots. We really wanted to clean up on the rebounds because rebounding was killing us. They were out rebounding us, so when we called a time-out we decided that we would go down and focus on rebounding on defense and let the offense come to us.
“R.M. Bailey is a great team, we all know that but we didn’t come over here to lose, so we are going to put our best foot forward because Sunland needs a championship. We are going to work hard and not give R.M. Bailey an easy game. I feel as though we are going to win.”
Sands led all scorers with 21 points. Teammates Delon Edgecombe and T’vaughn Gibson closed with 19 and 18 points respectively.
Helping the Pacers team into the championships was Kenneth Pratt, with 24 points. Geovano Bethel and Lloyd Lightbourne scored 21 and 10 points respectively. In a losing effort, Gabi Laurent put up 26 points for the Cobras, while Karon Pratt scored 17 points and Roosevelt Whylley had eight.