The Government Secondary School Sports Association (GSSSA) best-of-three basketball championships are halfway over as two champions were crowned yesterday at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.
In the junior boys division, the D.W. Davis Royals completed their fourth straight undefeated season, taking down the C.H. Reeves Raptors in game two of that series, 45-34, to sweep the series two games to none. The C.I. Gibson Rattlers are the new senior girls champions, completing a two game sweep of the C.V. Bethel Stingrays.
They blew out the Stingrays in game two of that series yesterday, 48-28. The junior girls and senior boys series will both go to a decisive game three, set for today. In the junior girls division yesterday, the T.A. Thompson Scorpions evened up their series with the H.O. Nash Lions, winning a close game, 50-46, yesterday. In the marquee senior boys game, the pennant-winning Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins pulled even with the Rattlers, winning game two of that series, 65-54.
Mystic Marlins 65, Rattlers, 54
After trailing for double digits for much of the first half, the C.I. Gibson Rattlers senior boys battled back to take a fourth quarter lead yesterday, but simply ran out of gas at the end, falling to the pennant-winning Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins. A 65-54 victory evened up the best-of-three championship series at a game apiece.
After the Rattlers went ahead 47-45 in the fourth, the Mystic Marlins went on a 12-0 scoring run to regain control. From there, the closest the Rattlers got the rest of the way was seven points.
Mystic Marlins’ Head Coach Denykco Bowles said that they went into a lull at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, but it was all about executing when they needed to pull off the victory.
“All I did was talk to the guys, and let them know what we needed to do,” said Bowles. “We were in the same situation last week and we came back from that, so we’re optimistic. I know what this team is capable of. We had a better attitude toward the game tonight and it showed. This was do-or-due situation for us so we had to come out and execute and we did. I just want to thank God for allowing us to stay focussed and bounce back,” he added.
The Mystic Marlins lost the first game of their semifinal playoff series to the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves but came back to win that series two games to one. They’re confident that they could do the same thing against the Rattlers in the championship.
“Come tomorrow (tonight), we just have to stick with what we do and be focussed for all four quarters. Once we do that, we’ll have just as good of a showing that we did tonight (last night) and will come out victorious.”
Janus Shepherd paced the Mystic Marlins with a game-high 19 points, eight of which came in the final quarter. He added 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Malachi McCoy was huge in the paint for the Mystic Marlins in the second half. He finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and two steals. Jaythan Belle added a dozen points, four rebounds and two assists.
Darryo Saunders led the Rattlers with 17 points but shot just 5-for-14 from the field and had five turnovers. He was 4-for-10 from distance, with three of those three-pointers coming in the second half. Derico Burrows was the only other player in double figures for the Rattlers. He had 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Center Chad Smith was the next highest scorer for the Rattlers with seven points and added eight rebounds.
“The referees did a good job but at the end of the day we started off to slow,” said Rattlers’ Head Coach Kevin “KJ” Johnson. “We came back and got a lead in the fourth quarter, but physically and mentally, we were ran out of it. We didn’t get back on defense like how we should have and that cost us. They scored some easy baskets because of that and they got the momentum back. We just took too long to get in the flow of the game tonight. Right now, we just have to stay focussed and come out here mentally tough for tomorrow’s (tonight) game.”
The Rattlers were horrendous in the first quarter, finishing with just five points. The Mystic Marlins weren’t that much better, but led 9-5 after the opening stanza. Both teams picked it up a bit in the second quarter, but they still struggled from the field. The Mystic Marlins took a 27-16 lead into the half and maintained that momentum for the first part of the third quarter before the Rattlers responded. The Rattlers ended the third on a 16-9 run to get back in the game.
“We waited too long to get back in the game,” said Johnson. “In the beginning we just weren’t making shots. We came back and took the lead in the fourth but at the end of the day, we just lost mental toughness on the defensive end. Hopefully, we’ll have a better showing tomorrow (tonight) and come ready to close it out.”
The third and decisive game will be held tonight at 8 p.m. at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium. The game will be broadcasted live on OurTV Channel 12.
Rattlers 48, Stingrays 28
The C.I. Gibson Rattlers senior girls wasted little time with the C.V. Bethel Stingrays yesterday, jumping out to a huge lead early and never looking back. They won going away, 48-28, sweeping the best-of-three championship series two games to none.
Adalia Tucker scored 13 points and pulled down five rebounds for the Rattlers. Glennia Sands helped out with 11 points, four rebounds and two steals and took home the championship Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Shaquania Daxon was a block short of a triple-double. She had 10 points, a whopping 19 rebounds and added nine blocks for the Rattlers. Ester Pierre scored eight points and added 11 rebounds.
D’Shante Cooper accounted for over 50 percent of the offense for the Stingrays. She had a game-high 20 points and added five rebounds and two steals. Branika Alexis had seven points, five rebounds and three steals, and Rondrica Paul scored their only other point.
The Rattlers led 9-2 after the opening quarter, 23-6 at the half and 34-19 after three. The Stingrays got no closer than 15 the rest of the way.
Royals 45, Raptors 34
The D.W. Davis Royals won their fourth straight GSSSA junior boys basketball title, and completed their fourth straight undefeated season, taking down the C.H. Reeves Raptors in a two-game sweep in the championship series. They won easily yesterday, 45-34.
Keith Forbes led a balanced scoring attack for the Royals, dropping in 11 points. Santion Sawyer and Fredrick King contributed 10 apiece and Dieuniel Joseph added nine. That was basically all the offense the Royals needed as that quarter outscored the entire Raptors team. Behind them, Keon Cooper had a three-point shot and Philip Dawkins scored two.
The Raptors were led by a game-high 16 points from Dondre Saunders. Behind him, Charles McKinney had six and Jaydn Farrington contributed four.
The Royals led 14-10 after the opening quarter and 29-18 at the half. The Raptors cut the lead to eight, 37-29, at the end of three, and ran out of gas in the fourth quarter as the Royals picked up their defensive intensity. The Royals held the Raptors to just five points in the fourth quarter, and won going away to capture their fourth straight GSSSA junior boys basketball title.
Scorpions 50, Lions 46
The GSSSA junior girls basketball championship will go to a decisive third game as the pennant-winning T.A. Thompson Scorpions bounced back to stun the H.O. Nash Lions yesterday. They won a close game, 50-46.
Dominiqua Rolle was fantastic for the Scorpions, erupting for a game-high 20 points. She added six rebounds, six steals and two assists. Gigi Smith added 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Nathalya Lightbourne contributed 10 points, six rebounds and five steals. That trio scored 45 of the Scorpions total points.
The Lions were led by 17 from Jonique Cunningham. She added nine rebounds and two steals. Geraniqua Bethel was their only other player in double figures with 11 points. She added six rebounds and three steals.
In what was a close game throughout, the Lions led 10-5 after the opening quarter, but the Scorpions battled back to tie the game at 19 at the half. The lead switched hands a number of times in the third before the Lions took a 34-33 advantage into the all-important fourth. However, the Scorpions outscored them 17-12 in the fourth to record the victory and even up the best-of-three championship series at a game apiece.
Game three is set for today, starting at 5 p.m. at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting