Marlins boys, ‘Rays girls reach GSSSA finals
The smoke has cleared and the Government Secondary School Sports Association (GSSSA) basketball championships are set after the final two teams booked their tickets on Saturday night at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium. In the senior girls division, the C.V. Bethel Stingrays senior girls squeezed past the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves in game three of their series, 37-35, and will face the pennant winners, the C.I. Gibson Rattlers, in the championship series. In the other game on Saturday, the number one seeded Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins got past the Timberwolves, 54-42, and will face the second-seeded Rattlers in the senior boys championship series.
In the junior girls’ division, the number-one-seeded T.A. Thompson Scorpions will go up against the second-seeded H.O. Nash Lions. The junior boys’ pennant winners, the D.W Davis Royals, play the second-seeded C.H. Reeves Raptors for the junior boys’ title.
On Friday, three teams swept their way to the championships. The Lions took care of the S.C. McPherson Sharks, 58-14, in junior girls play with a game-high 22 points from Abigail Woodside and 20 points from Geraniqua Bethel. In the junior boys’ division, the Raptors took down the A.F. Adderley Tigers, 59-32, to sweep that series two games to none. Jaydn Farrington and Dondre Saunders led the Raptors with 16 and 14 points, respectively. In the senior boys’ game, the Rattlers took care of business, as they defeated the C.C. Sweeting Cobras, 67-51. Leading the way for the Rattlers were Kenvon Farrington and Derico Burrows with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Clifton Barr had 11 in the loss.
Mystic Marlins 54, Timberwolves 42
Tempers flared and things got cheeky on Saturday night after a grueling four quarters that saw highlight dunks from both teams. In the end, the Mystic Marlins held off the Timberwolves, 52-40, to advance to the championship.
Malachi McCoy finished up with 15 points in the win, the majority on dunks. He got help from his teammate, Janis Shepherd, with 14 points.
After dropping the first game of the series on Monday night, the Mystic Marlins won the second game, coming away with a close 54-50 victory.
Denykco Bowles, head coach of the Mystic Marlins, said: “We know Anatol was going to come out strong – it is either win or go home. We just left it all out there to earn our rights to the championship. I told my guys that we are not here to play for two or three minutes, but for four quarters, and we did a good job of doing that tonight.”
From the start of the game on Saturday night, it looked like it was going to be an intense game. Both teams drilled a three-pointer early on.
The Timberwolves’ Tyrell Butler, who finished with 14 points, got a steal, charged up the court and threw down a ferocious left-handed tomahawk poster dunk on a Mystic Marlins’ defender. That sent the entire gym into a frenzy. Butler was fouled on the play and completed on the and-one play to put his team ahead 7-2 with 6:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Anatol Rodgers eventually took a 15-13 lead into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, both teams competed fiercely. The Timberwolves led 24-23 at half. This set things up for an intriguing second half as both teams fought for the chance to play the Rattlers in the championship series.
The game was tied at 25 in the third quarter with 7:07 remaining when the Mystic Marlins went on a 6-0 scoring run. From there, the Mystic Marlins never trailed again. With just over a minute remaining in the third, Mystic Marlins’ big man McCoy had no mercy on the rim as he slammed one down to put his team ahead 37-31.
The Timberwolves were outscored 16-7 in the third quarter and the Mystic Marlins went into the fourth quarter up 39-31.
McCoy was not finished with his highlight plays. He threw down back-to-back alley-oop dunks that ignited a spark for his team and sent a message to the Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves’ energy was not there in the second half like it was in the first half.
In the end, the Mystic Marlins came out on top 54-42 after a 31-18 second half advantage.
Bowles knows that he is up against a tough C.I. Gibson team that is well-coached by Kevin “KJ” Johnson. He wants his team to leave it all on the line in the championship series.
“We just have to stay poised. We have to be ready to play them on Monday night. We just have to be consistent and continually play Doris Johnson basketball. We have to come out and execute on our plays, play defense and once we leave it on the line Monday night, we definitely have a good chance of winning,” Bowles said.
The championships, in all four divisions, will be held on Monday, starting at 4 p.m., at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium. OurTV will begin its live broadcast on channel 12 at 8 p.m.
Stingrays 37, Timberwolves 35
The Stingrays got a game-high 23 points from D’Shante Cooper, and held on to defeat the Timberwolves 37-35.
After losing the first game of the best-of-three series, the Stingrays won game two on Friday night 24-22, setting up a decisive game three on Saturday night.
Shantelle Rolle, head coach of the Stingrays, said: “We came out with the same game plan as Friday night – keep the high tempo and try get a lead early in the game. We needed that loss on Tuesday night. I know it was going to be a close game and Anatol is a very competitive team but we stuck to the game plan and we came out victorious.”
The Timberwolves went up 26-24 at the end of the third. Cooper completed an and-one play after she was fouled on a lay-up. That gave the Stingrays a 29-28 lead.
The Timberwolves’ Lavern Armbrister, who had 18 points in the loss, also completed an and-one play to cut a 34-30 gap to 34-33.
After a made free throw by the Stingrays that put them up 35-33, the Timberwolves came back and connected on a lay-up to tie things up at 35 with 26 seconds remaining in the game.
It looked like it was headed to overtime, but Cooper had other plans. She comfortably sank two free-throws with 18.8 seconds remaining to give her team a 37-35 lead.
The Timberwolves had no response to Cooper’s free-throws, as time expired, and the Stingrays booked their ticket to the championship series.
Rolle said she is sticking to the same game plan for the championship series and hopes her team takes care of the basketball.
The championships, in all four divisions, will be held on Monday, starting at 4 p.m., at Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium. OurTV will begin its live broadcast on channel 12 at 8 p.m.