FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Playing in a standing-room only St. George’s High School Gymnasium, at home, the St. George’s Jaguars claimed the coveted senior boys title at the 2019 Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships, dethroning the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Falcons, 62-57, on Monday night.
Paul Greene, who was selected as the Most Valuable Player (MVP), was instrumental in the win. He posted 22 points and pulled down 17 rebounds for a huge double-double. The tall and lanky forward was fearless, grabbing seven of his team’s 25 offensive boards and scoring at will in crucial moments.
The Jaguars is now the first team to win two senior boys titles in the four-year history of the high school nationals. They have been in three out of four finals, winning in 2017 against the Falcons and now in 2019, again against the Falcons.
The Jaguars had a wake-up call in pool play when the Gateway Christian Academy Eagles surprised them when they handed them a 54-47 defeat. The Jaguars had to win their remaining games in order to cut down the nets.
Darryl Sears, head coach of Jaguars, was ecstatic with the victory.
“I have a bunch of coaches over there – Coach Future, Munroe and Victor, who make me look like I know what I am doing. We have the best coaching staff in The Bahamas. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this. They were angry with me a lot for the year, but I know that they are not angry now. We ran a lot and we practiced hard. We woke up at five o’clock in the mornings and just worked hard,” an emotional Sears said.
Two-guard Joshua Dames had a monstrous game on offense as he scored 26 points and had seven rebounds for the Falcons. However, he had half of his team’s 18 turnovers.
The game was a very competitive one with both teams playing fierce defense early on. No team led by more than 10 points in the game and the longest scoring run was eight by the Falcons. The crowd could not have asked for a better game. There were eight lead changes and six ties.
Tabernacle controlled most of the first quarter, and took a 15-12 lead into the second. Tabernacle’s diminutive point guard Ethan Munroe started an 8-0 scoring run with a three-pointer with 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Dames made a lay-up with 5:23 left in the second quarter to give his team their largest lead of the game, 20-12.
The Jaguars came roaring back. Greene made two free-throws at the end of the first half to tie the game at 24.
Sears said Greene suffered a broken wrist during the Hugh Campbell championship game against the Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins and bounced back to lead his team to victory in the high school nationals. He said that the cast was removed last week Thursday, and Greene showed mental toughness in bouncing back to play and lead by example. Throughout the championships, he wore a brace on his left wrist.
“I knew my team needed and counted on me,” Greene said about what motivated him playing less than a week after removing the cast.
The Jaguars’ Samuel Pinder led all scorers at the half with 13 points as he carried his team offensively up to that point. Greene had 10 boards.
Ethan Munroe had 11 points that included two three-pointers for the Falcons.
Both teams shot under 30 percent from the field.
The third quarter was very competitive as both teams were playing at a high level. They traded baskets a few times and St. George’s held a slim one-point lead, 40-39, at the end of the quarter.
The crowd was locked in as the fourth quarter was ushered in. Tabernacle was looking to repeat as champions and the St. George’s was looking to do what they did in the Grand Bahama Secondary Schools Sports Association (GBSSSA) senior boys championship series – defeat Tabernacle.
It was the Jaguars who came out swinging as they went on a quick 8-2 run that was capped off by a lay-up from Pinder with 4:43 remaining in the game. He put his team up 48-41.
Dames split a pair of free-throws with 1:33 remaining to bring the Falcons to within two, 57-55.
It was Christopher Johnson’s shot with 21 seconds left in the game that sent the Tabernacle’s fans walking out of the gym.
Johnson had five points in the game but those two were crucial as it sealed his team’s 62-57 victory.
Greene said that it feels awesome to win, stating that his teammates trusted each other. He also thanked his coaches for the win.
St. George’s had 28 second chance points compared to just 11 for Tabernacle. Kevin Clarke, head coach for Tabernacle, recognized the advantage in that area for St. George’s.
“As you can see, St. George’s is long – second chance points killed us. They were getting three and four opportunities at the basket and we weren’t boxing out. If you give up offensive rebounds you are not going to win. They had 25 offensive rebounds, that is unheard of. Like I told my boys, if you can control the things you can control like making free throws and limiting them to one shot then we would be national champions right now. When you give a team 25 offensive rebounds, that is 25 other opportunities that they had to score the basketball,” an upset Clarke said.
He congratulated coach Sears and his St. George’s team on the win. He said that he had a tough talk with his team after the game and is looking forward to next season.
It was sweet redemption for the St. George’s after falling short in the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic championship game against the Mystic Marlins. They lost 84-75 in double-overtime.
Earlier that night, the St. John’s College Giants captured the senior girls title when they defeated the St. Augustine’s College (SAC) Big Red Machine, 56-44.
The Giants’ Michelle Butler was named the MVP after scoring 17 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
In 2016, the inaugural year, the C.C. Sweeting Cobras won the title in the boys’ division, defeating the Jaguars in the championship game. The Mystic Marlins defeated the C.R. Walker Knights to win the girls title that year. The Eight Mile Rock Blue Jays took down the Mary Star of the Sea Crusaders in the Family Island Division that year.
The following year the Jaguars defeated the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Falcons in the boys division. The Jordan Prince William Falcons rolled over the Mystic Marlins in the girls’ division. The Family Island Division was won by the Gateway Academy Eagles as they turned back Abaco Central High.
In last year’s tournament, the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Falcons knocked off the Jack Hayward High Wildcats in the boys’ championship game. The Mystic Marlins took down the Prince William Falcons in a championship rematch to walk away as the winner of the girls’ division. In the Family Island Division, the Gateway Academy Eagles repeated as champions, defeating the Agape Christian Eagles in the championship game.