The Government Secondary School Sports Association (GSSSA) best-of-three basketball championships are now over and done with as the final two champions were crowned yesterday at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.
In the junior girls division, the pennant-winning T.A. Thompson Scorpions ended the three-year run of the H.O. Nash Lions, winning game three, 55-44, and taking the series two games to one. After losing the first game of the series, they bounced back to take the final two.
In the senior boys division, the Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins also proved to be resilient, bouncing back to beat the C.I. Gibson Rattlers after losing the first game of that series. They won yesterday, 67-59, to win the series two games to one. On Tuesday, the D.W. Davis Royals junior boys finished off the C.H. Reeves Raptors in a two-game sweep, winning game two 45-34, and in the senior girls division, the Rattlers blasted the C.V. Bethel Stingrays, winning game two of that series quite easily, 48-28.
It was the fourth straight GSSSA championship for the Royals junior boys and they completed their fourth straight undefeated season. For the Rattlers senior girls, it was their first GSSSA basketball championship in 12 years when they were on the back side of a three-peat.
Mystic Marlins 67, Rattlers, 59
For the second night in a row, the Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins blew a huge lead, but for the second night in a row, they weathered the storm and came out victorious.
The Mystic Marlins’ offense went completely stagnant at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, allowing the C.I. Gibson Rattlers to get back in the game after trailing by 18. The Rattlers bounced back to tie the game in the fourth, but they missed nine free shots down the stretch which killed their rally.
The Mystic Marlins were able to hold on, winning 67-59, to claim just the second GSSSA senior boys basketball title in school history. They defeated the Rattlers in the championship series in 2016 as well.
“It feels good to win. We knew they would make a run but we just stayed focussed,” said Mystic Marlins’ Head Coach Denykco Bowles. “We got too relaxed. The guys saw they were ahead by almost 20 points and got relaxed, and that happens in basketball. You get a big lead and you take your feet off the gas pedal. That’s what happened to us tonight, but I just told them to keep pushing and they did that. These guys worked hard and I’m proud of them.”
The Rattlers got out to their accustomed slow start and didn’t quite respond to the Mystic Marlins’ onslaught until midway through the third. Tyeko Lowe completed a three-point play in which he converted a driving lay-up and was fouled, to give the Mystic Marlins a 49-31 lead with 3:27 remaining in the third quarter. However, they went scoreless for the remainder of the third as the Rattlers went on a frantic rally. The rattlers scored the final 10 points of the third and then opened the fourth on a 10-2 scoring run to tie the game at 51. However, they missed nine out of 12 free shots the rest of the way.
“We were right there in it, but we just missed too many free shots down the stretch and that was the outcome in the game tonight,” said Rattlers’ Head Coach Kevin “KJ” Johnson. “My boys played extremely well. They fought hard against a much older team and I’m proud of them. We finally woke up in the third quarter and started playing but it was too late. We were resilient and mentally tough but we just missed too much free shots down the stretch and allowed them to get too many easy baskets. We will continue to work and continue to get better.”
Malachi McCoy and Janus Shepherd paced the Mystic Marlins with 14 points apiece. McCoy added a game-high 16 rebounds. Jaythan Belle had 10 points for the Mystic Marlins, and Lowe and Joshua Burrows contributed nine points and five rebounds apiece.
Derico Burrows paced the Rattlers with 13 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists. Center Chad Smith added 10 points, five rebounds and three steals. Jaden Strachan and Jaheed Sanusi scored nine apiece.
The Mystic Marlins were ahead 21-14 after the first quarter, and 35-27 at the half. The lead reached 18 in the third before the Rattlers closed the quarter on a 10-0 scoring run to get back in the game. They trailed 49-41 at the end of three. After they pulled even at 51 in the fourth on a three-point shot from Sanusi, the Mystic Marlins got a steal and a driving lay-up from Shepherd and a driving lay-up from Burrows. The Rattlers got within two points again, at 55-53, but the Mystic Marlins went on a 9-2 run inclusive of another driving lay-up from Burrows and a driving lay-up from Lowe to finish them off.
Bowles said that their confidence is now sky high going into the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic and the high school nationals.
“Once we do what we’re supposed to do, we know that we’re a hard team to beat,” he said. “We just have to stay focussed and play like we’re capable of playing. My job is to just steer them in the right direction and keep them calm and relaxed. We’re going to use this championship as momentum and come back even stronger for the nationals and Hugh Campbell. We’ll be ready to go.”
The Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic will be held later this month while the Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships is scheduled for March.
Scorpions 55, Lions 44
Despite winning the pennant in the junior girls division this year, the T.A. Thompson Scorpions still went into the GSSSA championship series as the underdogs given the history and winning tradition of the H.O. Nash Lions. The Lions had won three straight GSSSA titles and were looking for a fourth.
They came out with every intention of winning another title as they won game one easily on Monday. However, the Scorpions bounced back to win game two, and then completed the upset yesterday, taking game three, 55-44, to finish off the series two games to one.
Nathalya Lightbourne scored 20 for the Scorpions and added six steals. Adriana Webster had an all-around game with 13 points, 11 rebounds, nine steals and six assists for the Scorpions. Dominiqua Rolle and Tania Kerr added eight apiece.
Jonique Cunningham had a dominant performance for the Lions. She scored 20 points, had nine rebounds and four steals. Geraniqua Bethel added 14 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two assists.
The Scorpions led 11-8 after the first quarter, but their defense really picked up in the second quarter as they held the Lions to just four points in that stanza. The Scorpions led 29-12 at the half and increased that lead to 45-21 at the end of three. The Lions tried to come back in the fourth but it was too little too late for them.