A new champion will be crowned tonight as two schools battle for their first Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic title at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.
The Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins are back for a second time, losing to the C.I. Gibson Rattlers five years ago, and the St. George’s Jaguars have finally broken through and advanced to a Hugh Campbell championship game after making it to the Final Four seven times.
The Mystic Marlins turned back the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves, winning 68-63 at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium yesterday. The Jaguars made sure the nation’s second city was represented in the championship game, blasting the C.C. Sweeting Cobras, 65-45, in their tournament semi-final game.
Mystic Marlins 68, Timberwolves 63
With the exception of the first game of their playoff series in the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) this year, the Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins have dominated this match-up, and yesterday proved to be no different. They jumped all over the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves, and then held off a late comeback to prevail, 68-63, at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium.
The Timberwolves hit a couple of late three-pointers to make the score respectable, but really and truly, they struggled to get within double digits in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. The Mystic Marlins dominated the first half of play. By the end of the first quarter, they were already ahead by double digits, 21-11.
The Timberwolves tried to use their speed and quickness to get back in the game, but the Mystic Marlins controlled the boards with their height advantage on the inside, thereby limiting the transition game of the Timberwolves. Also, the Timberwolves struggled from the outside and at the free throw line. The Mystic Marlins led 41-29 at the half, and the Timberwolves got as close as six points in the third, but the Mystic Marlins quickly stretched the lead back to double digits. They took a 53-42 advantage into the fourth, and held the Timberwolves at bay the rest of the way.
They feel confident of their chances going into the championship game which is set for 9 p.m. tonight at the Kendal Isaacs gym.
“We have to come out here and just be ready to roll. It’s not going to be easy, but once we come out here and play our style of basketball, we feel confident of our chances of coming out on top. It’s a challenge for us but we’ll be ready to go,” said Mystic Marlins Head Coach Denycko Bowles.
Malachi McCoy had a huge double-double with 25 points and 16 rebounds for the Mystic Marlins yesterday. Jaythan Belle and Matthew Saunders added 12 apiece, and Tyeko Lowe, Joshua Burrows and Richard Lowe dropped in five apiece.
“Once we stay poised, we’re confident of our chances. Defense is the key… just communicating on defense and staying under control,” said McCoy. “Once we play solid defense, and limit our turnovers, we should be okay. We’re hungry and we’re excited. We’re ready to go,” he added.
It’s just the Mystic Marlins’ second trip to the Hugh Campbell Final. They lost by three points to the C.I. Gibson Rattlers in 2014. The Timberwolves were looking to make their first Hugh Campbell Final. Head Coach Spurgeon Johnson said they didn’t respond to the Mystic Marlins’ early onslaught, and as a result, they came out on the losing end.
“We were a little rattled in the first half, made some adjustments in the second half but it was too late,” said Johnson. “Every time we faced them (Mystic Marlins) this year it was a challenge. They got out to a big lead and we had to battle our way back into it. One thing we wanted to do was to finish strong, regardless of the score. We fought to the end so I’m proud of the effort they gave me.”
Tyrell Butler paced the Timberwolves with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists. Jermaine Mackey Jr. was their only other player in double figures with 11. Cedron Cummings was their next highest scorer with nine, and Kevin Thompson added eight.
The Mystic Marlins outrebounded the Timberwolves, 44-35, and converted 26 second chance points compered to just 10 for the Timberwolves.
Jaguars 65, Cobras 45
The St. George’s Jaguars were never really threatened in their semi-final game against the C.C. Sweeting Cobras yesterday. They raced out to a 9-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game and never looked back, en route to a comfortable 65-45 win at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium.
The game was pretty much over after the first quarter. By the end of one, the Jaguars were already ahead 24-7. Their length caused a problem for the Cobras on the inside, and then they were hitting their outside shots as well. The bewildered Cobras had no answer. The Jaguars will now march into tonight’s championship game where they will find a hungry Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins team waiting. The championship game is set for 9 p.m. tonight at the Kendal Isaacs gym.
“We’ve been preaching team defense to our kids from the start of the season and we executed that today,” said Jaguars Head Coach Darrell Sears. “This is the first time for our program in the championship game and we’re not ready to stop there. We’re going to try and see if we could bring it home. We’re facing a very tough Doris Johnson team and we have to bring that same intensity that we brought today to stand a chance.”
The Mystic Marlins defeated the Jaguars in their only match-up this year – in the Providence Basketball Classic over the Christmas holidays. Sears is confident of their chances of coming out on top this time. They will be playing in their first Hugh Campbell Final after reaching the Hugh Campbell Final Four on seven different occasions.
“We feel like we match up very well with them and we’re ready to go. We feel like it’s going to be a thrilling game,” said Sears. “We feel like we have the length with our match-up with them on the inside, but we definitely have to control their shooters. We have to be aggressive and rebound the ball well. They are well-coached and are a good transition team. Once we control them in transition and guard the perimeter, we feel like we will be okay. We like our chances.”
Christopher Johnson and Shavaul Butters led a very balanced scoring attack for the Jaguars with 13 points apiece. Butters added 14 rebounds and Johnson had seven boards. Theodore Grant scored 11 and Samuel Pinder and Paul Greene dropped in eight apiece. Greene added 10 rebounds.
Anthon Williams was the only player in double figures with 12 for the Cobras, but shot just 4-for-14 from the floor. He added five assists and four rebounds. La’Shaun Bassett added nine points; Ethan Munnings dropped in six and had eight rebounds; and Clifton Barr, Haywood Seymour and Joshua Anderson scored five apiece. Seymour had nine boards, and Barr pulled down six rebounds and dished out three assists.
“St. George’s is a very disciplined team and they are very scripted offensively and defensively,” said Cobras Head Coach Wayde Watson. “They have a lot of length so they got a lot of rebounds and second chance points. It was a tough night for us but that happens sometimes in the game of basketball. I told the guys to focus on boxing out because they are already taller than us. That didn’t happen and we got beat. It was just a tough outing,” he added.
The Jaguars were never threatened in the game. The Cobras actually scored the first basket of the game on a lay-up from Munnings, but the Jaguars quickly got going and the Cobras failed to respond. The Jaguars led 24-7 after the first quarter and 40-23 at the half. They continued to keep the pressure on, increasing the lead to 54-30 at the end of three quarters, and were ahead by as much as 27 in the fourth before coasting to the emphatic win.
Jump Line – Hugh Campbell Final set for 9 p.m. tonight at Kendal Isaacs gym