In what turned out to be one of the more thrilling championship games in the history of the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic, the Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins persevered, surviving two overtimes to overcome the St. George’s Jaguars last night. After blowing the game in the final 1.2 seconds in regulation, and battling to a 71-71 tie at the end of the first overtime, the Mystic Marlins took over in the second overtime session. They scored the final nine points of the second overtime period to win going away, 84-75, taking their first Hugh Campbell title last night at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.
It was a classic battle between the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) Champions and the Grand Bahama Secondary Schools Athletic Association (GBSSAA) Champions, and in the end, only one could prevail.
Senior forward Malachi McCoy led by example as he was a game changer on both the offensive and defensive sides. McCoy had six points in the double overtime period and a huge block on the defensive end to lead the Mystic Marlins. In total, he scored 16 points, pulled down 16 rebounds, and added five steals and three blocks. His breakaway jam in the waning seconds put an exclamation mark on the victory for the Mystic Marlins.
“Consistency is the key. We have a lot of guys who were consistent all season, and Mally (McCoy) is one of those guys,” said Mystic Marlins’ Head Coach Denycko Bowles. “Other guys stepped up as well. I just told them to maintain their composure and play their game and they did that.”
Janus Shepherd led the Mystic Marlins with 19 points, five assists and three steals. Jaythan Belle scored 13 including a pair of three-point shots and Richard Lowe came off the bench to score 12 and added eight rebounds. Tyeko Lowe was the only other player in double figures for them. He dropped in 10 and had 10 rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime session. Joshua Burrows had a huge lay-up in the second overtime session and finished with six for the Mystic Marlins.
After a horrific first half, shooting-wise, Samuel Pinder rebounded to score a game-high 23 points for the Jaguars – 16 of which came after half-time. Shavaul Butters scored 18 points and added 11 rebounds, and point guard Theodore Grant contributed 13 points, five steals, three assists and three rebounds. Paul Greene added 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. Christopher Johnson scored the other nine for the Jaguars and added seven rebounds.
“Doris wanted it more than us and they deserve to win,” said Jaguars’ Head Coach Darrell Sears. “It’s just one of those games where you have to tip your hat to the winner. We really missed too many free shots and we didn’t play the way I would have liked for us to play. The good thing is that the nationals are coming up. We have to go back and re-focus and be ready for that. We match up well against them, but it’s just that Doris hit more shots and they wanted it more at the end. We’re going to learn from this loss and we’ll be ready for nationals.”
The Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships are set for March. For now, bragging rights belong to the Mystic Marlins though. After losing to the C.I. Gibson Rattlers in the Hugh Campbell championship game by three points five years ago, they finally have the coveted title and a total of 38 minutes to get it last night – 32 in regulation and six in the two overtime sessions.
The game was really close throughout as no team led by double digits. In fact, the nine-point margin at the end was the largest lead of the game.
The Mystic Marlins led 16-12 after the opening quarter, and after the Jaguars took their first lead of the game early in the second quarter, the Mystic Marlins re-took the lead and held on to a 32-29 cushion at the half. The Jaguars scored the final six points of the third quarter, and took a 50-46 lead into the fourth period.
The Mystic Marlins were ahead 65-63 with just 1.2 seconds remaining in regulation, but in what turned out to be one of the plays of the game, the Jaguars found Butters under the rim on an alley-oop pass from out of bounds, and Butters put in the short lay-up to force the first overtime. The Jaguars turned the ball over at the end of the first overtime session, and the two teams were set for another three minutes of basketball with the score tied at 71.
Finally, the Mystic Marlins sealed victory. In came on the strength of nine straight points in the second overtime session. McCoy scored six of those nine points including the statement jam at the end, and with that, the Mystic Marlins celebrated their first ever Hugh Campbell basketball title in the 37-year history of the event.
“We put in a lot of work from the summer, and we fought hard for this one tonight. I’m just glad that it paid off. It feels extremely good,” said Bowles. “We had some players who stepped up big time. Mally (McCoy) was strong for us down low and the guards did a good job of attacking the paint. Defensively, we were able to grab some big rebounds and disrupt a lot of shots. Everyone bonded together tonight and it was a team effort.”
The Jaguars were also looking for their first Hugh Campbell title but came up short. They have advanced to the Hugh Campbell Final Four on seven times but were playing in their first final last night. Sears said they will rebound and come back strong for the nationals.
This one belongs to the Mystic Marlins!