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Coaches hoping to see improvement at 2020 nationals

The Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships wrapped up on Monday night at the St. George’s Gymnasium in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and winning the national title in the senior boys was the home team, St. George’s Jaguars, while the St. John’s College Giants came out on top in the senior girls division.

A few of the head coaches who spoke to Nassau Guardian Sports said the tournament was great exposure for their athletes, but felt that it can be better.

Darrell Sears, head coach for the Jaguars, said as a coach he enjoyed seeing the players compete against each other and it was something that he longed for.

“Any time you can have quality teams compete against each other in one sport in The Bahamas, it is always a good thing for me to see as a coach. I have been doing this a long time and I have seen the growth of coaches and players getting better. This is something that we have fought for, especially in Grand Bahama, having a true national championships, and now we have it,” Sears said.

Sears said he has nothing against the Hugh Campbell Basketball Tournament, but in his personal opinion, it is primarily geared around teams from Grand Bahama and New Providence. He wants there to be a national championships event where there is a true ranking system and the best teams in the country compete.

Over at St. John’s College, the girls were given a red-carpet treatment yesterday. Oswaldo Taylor, head coach of the Giants, said it was a nice experience and good exposure for his girls. The Giants girls were the only team in both divisions to come away with a perfect record. They finished with just one loss for the year – game two of the best-of-three Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) championship series. The Giants went on to win that series two games to one.

For Gilbert Rolle, head coach for Gateway Christian Academy out of Bimini, he was happy that there was live-streaming of the games so the rest of the country could see the talent on display.

“I definitely like the feel of getting exposure for the kids. Games could have been watched live on television and persons who couldn’t make it were able to watch the games. That was definitely a positive thing – for there to be a social media presence, especially with the boys division. I can go back and send that clip to coaches all around the U.S. in colleges and they can watch a live game of a particular player. The live commentating makes the kids feel special, especially the kids from the Family Islands,” Rolle said.

While Rolle loves that there was live-streaming of the boys division, Taylor felt slighted over on the girls side.

Taylor said: “There was no television coverage for the girls. Before we went over there, I mentioned in a meeting that the girls teams needed to be treated fairly and not be discriminated against. I thought we had that understanding. However, at the nationals, the boys championship game was televised, but the girls game wasn’t.”

Taylor offered a suggestion that involved traveling to a different island for their own nationals, on a different date separate from the boys, or keep the same format but have both games televised.

Another complaint at the nationals was about the officiating.

Taylor said: “Since these are the best teams competing at the highest level, they need to have the best, most experienced officials calling these games and it was not so in this case. They had guys there who were just learning. The fans and players could see that.”

For Sears, he knows that officiating is a difficult job, but he saw some steps that could be taken for the tournament to improve in that area.

“Most coaches will obviously talk about officiating. There is no coach that I know, even myself, who doesn’t complain about officiating. Until you call some of these games and get a feel of what these referees are doing then you will not understand what a hard job it is to be an official. It is not easy. When it appears that there is a blatant or biased call consistently, I think that is when coaches get upset, so we need to keep training,” Sears said.

Sears said he noticed that Technical Director Randolph “Mooch” Humes examined each game of the nationals and decided where officials went wrong and where they could have been better.

For Taylor, his girls returned to the capital on Tuesday night after asking for an earlier flight from Monday. A welcome reception was held for them.

Rolle, whose team finished with four wins and one loss, said he thinks the pool structure needs to be better. He gave the example of his team playing an extra game, and had they advanced to the championship, they would have played six games in total. That is more than what most of the other teams would have played.

Taylor said it will be good if they go back to giving out rings instead of the trophies, as the rings could last a lifetime and it’s something you can wear at any time, anywhere.

Sears said he heard some whispers pertaining to next year’s championships being held in the capital of New Providence.

“I hope to see it stay in Grand Bahama. I have known and heard the whispers of the committee trying to get it to New Providence. To me it does well in Grand Bahama, obviously. We have to travel to Hugh Campbell which is very costly for us – in excess of $8,000. We would have to travel back there one or two weeks after the Hugh Campbell. The other players like the idea of traveling to Grand Bahama and they want to travel as well. It gives them the chance to see what it is to play on the road. The kids enjoy it based on what I heard from the other kids just like ours,” Sears said.

He added that what can also be done is to host the event on other islands. He said that can help to grow the economy of those islands and expose the athletes to a different part of The Bahamas.

Rolle wants the championships to be at a time when scouts and college teams can come and see the athletes. In addition, he hopes to see more Family Island teams play in the championships.

The Jaguars defeated the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Falcons to lift the senior boys trophy. For the Giants, they won over the St. Augustine’s College (SAC) Big Red Machine to win the senior girls division.

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