For the first time in school history, the St. John’s College Giants have a Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) senior girls basketball title to go along with a senior boys title in the same year. The Giants’ senior girls ran away from the St. Augustine’s College (SAC) Big Red Machine on Monday evening at the Kendal G. L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, winning the clinching game in the best-of-three championship series, 42-33. In the junior boys division, the Jordan Prince Williams Falcons stunned the pennant-winning Queen’s College Comets, winning game three in a blowout, 55-38, for their second consecutive BIASS junior boys basketball title. On Friday, the other two divisions ended in two-game sweeps as the Giants outlasted the Comets in the senior boys division, winning game two 62-61 in double overtime, and SAC completed a two-game sweep of the Giants in the junior girls division. They won game two on Friday, 40-33.
Giants 42, SAC 33
After letting a perfect season slip through their fingers on Friday, the St. John’s College Giants came out determined to atone for that loss and win the school’s first BAISS senior girls title in eight years. It’s also the first time St. John’s has won both the senior boys and senior girls BAISS basketball titles in the same year in school history.
The Giants outscored the St. Augustine’s College (SAC) Big Red Machine 11-3 in the final 2:32 of the game to record a thrilling 42-33 victory at the Kendal Isaacs Gym on Monday. They lost game two, 45-41, on Friday, suffering their first and only loss of the season. Head Coach Oswaldo Taylor said they quickly put that loss behind them and came out focused on game three.
“I told the girls game two is over so let’s get over it and get back to work. We went through drills for about two hours on Sunday,” he said. “We came into this game and knew what we needed to do. We were ready to play. We came out a bit nervous in the first quarter, but once the girls got over that, they started to play. Our defense was strong all season long, and it came through for us again today. It was an awesome year and now we’re ready for the nationals.”
For some reason, the Giants were flat in the first quarter, looking nothing like the team which breezed through an undefeated regular season and into the championship series. They trailed by as many as nine in the early going, and were down 11-4 at the end of one. However, it didn’t take them long to respond. Behind a couple of three-point shots from Christinna Richardson, the Giants battled back in the game. They outscored SAC 15-6 in the second quarter to take a 19-17 lead at the break.
Calvanique Spence had some big buckets down the stretch in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 12 points for the Giants. Sideya Hilaire scored 11 and Richardson finished with nine. Laquon Sands and Michelle Butler completed the scoring for the Giants with five apiece.
“We started off slow, but we got it together and started playing like how we’re used of playing,” said an excited Spence afterwards. “This feels great – we’re going to party. Coach just kept stressing defense to us and that is what brought us through in the fourth quarter. The defense led to points on the other end and we were able to pull away.”
Concerning her play, Spence said she just had to go in there and do what her team needed her to do. She scored eight of her 12 points in the second half, including six in the fourth quarter.
SAC maintained pace with the Giants in the third quarter and the early part of the fourth, but when St. John’s increased the lead to five points, SAC struggled to get back in it. SAC led by one, 27-26 at the end of three quarters, but fell apart midway through the fourth. The Giants got one of two free shots from Richardson to increase the lead to five, 36-31, with just 2:12 left on the clock. SAC got no closer the rest of the way.
“I just thank God for the opportunity and for the victory. This is great,” exclaimed Giants’ Head Coach Taylor. “These girls played a hell of a game. We practiced hard over the weekend and it paid off today. We executed our defense and did the things that we needed to do to come out on top. The main thing was defense. We executed on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the fourth quarter, and it paid off for us.”
No player scored in double figures for SAC. They were led by seven points from Jade Brown. McKayla White, Karolyn Baptiste and Tianna Arthur scored six apiece. Rachel Rolle added four.
The Giants thrived in transition, particularly late in the game. Consecutive lay-ups from Spence put them ahead by nine with just 49 seconds remaining, sealing the victory for the Giants.
It’s their first BAISS senior girls basketball title since they were on the back end of a repeat in 2011, and the first time in school history that the school has won both the senior boys and senior girls BAISS basketball titles in the same year.
Falcons 55, Comets 38
After two relatively close games in the first two games of the series, the Jordan Prince Williams Falcons won emphatically in game three, stunning the pennant-winning Queen’s College (QC) Comets.
The Falcons jumped on the Comets early, and never let up, en route to a comfortable 55-38 win on Monday at the Kendal Isaacs Gym. The win gave them their second consecutive BIASS junior boys basketball title.
By the end of the first quarter, the Falcons were already ahead by double figures. They led 17-6 after the first quarter, and 26-18 at the half. Not prepared to let their foot off the gas pedal, the Falcons outscored the Comets by five in the third, to take a 41-28 lead into the final period. The Comets had no answer for the Falcons’ onslaught in the fourth.
Michael Johnson paced the Falcons with a game-high 20 points, 17 of which came in the second half. Adrian Walkes added 10, and Tior’e Heart and Verron Clarke contributed six apiece. Janard Fisher dropped in five.
Ahmad Evans led the Comets with 10 points. Prolific scorer Meleek Pierre was held to just eight points, and Jadyn Munnings contributed seven. Akil Edwards dropped in six.
“It’s awesome. We have to rebuild for next year because we’re losing a lot of players, but we’ll cherish this win for now. It’s just an awesome feeling,” said Falcons’ Head Coach Ernest Saunders. “We had to respect him (Pierre) and we had to respect the coaching staff at QC. They have a good group of guys. We knew that we couldn’t stop him (Pierre) completely, but once we limited his effectiveness, we would stand a chance. We hung in there and we ended up being successful. Our main concern was defense, and we executed when we needed to the most and that was the difference. We saw where we went wrong in the last game. We weren’t bringing enough pressure and we didn’t execute like we were supposed to. Once the guys saw their mistakes and that they were not doing the things that needed to be done, they corrected that and we came out on top.”
The Falcons defended the perimeter well, clogged up the lanes and forced turnovers. The Comets seemed a bit overwhelmed and failed to generate any kind of offensive consistency.
With the win, the Falcons became the third team this decade to win successive BAISS junior boys basketball titles, joining the Comets who did it in 2012 and again in 2013, and SAC who accomplished the feat in 2014 and again in 2015.
The BAISS basketball championships are now completed. It’s now on to the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic and the Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting