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The Bahamas defeats El Salvador

The Bahamas’ Under-17 Girls National Basketball Team got off to a great start at the Centrobasket Under-17 Championships at the historic Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday, as Rhema Collins led them to a huge win over El Salvador. Collins recorded a double-double to lead her team to a 79-59 victory yesterday afternoon.

Collins scored 11 points and had 15 boards in 32 minutes of play. The post player also had three steals and three blocks.

She led two other scorers in double-figure scoring for The Bahamas: Antonicia Moultrie who led The Bahamas with 14 points and Michelle Butler who finished with 12 points. Denika Lightbourne and Karolyn Baptiste were on the cusp of double figures, pouring in nine points each for The Bahamas.

Moultrie had nine rebounds and Butler finished with eight rebounds.

For El Salvador, Keylin Muricia led all scorers with 21 points. She was the only player for her team with double-digit scoring.

Collins said El Salvador was very physical, and that that was evident in the 22 fouls they committed.

She said: “I didn’t think that I played very well, I could have done better, but the most important part was that we got the win.”

The first quarter was close with both teams being unable to find separation. That quarter ended 19-17 in favor of the Central American team.

During the break, Team Bahamas Head Coach Varel Clarke-Davis and her coaching staff spoke to the girls, and they came out playing with more urgency and confidence.

The team went on a 23-9 second-quarter run to put The Bahamas up 40-28 heading into the intermission.

“When we first came out, we started a little slow. I think the girls were a little nervous, but as the game progressed, they got a little better. I am very proud of them because they actually ran the set plays properly. The defense was on par tonight. The bigs played extremely well for us and the rebounding was excellent,” said Clarke-Davis.

Moultrie said, “I felt that we played good, we ran our plays and executed. I had nerves for the first two minutes, but it got out.”

On the glass, The Bahamas out-rebounded El Salvador 52-40. Out of those 52 rebounds, 23 of them were on the offensive glass. Those offensive rebounds led to 16 second chance points compared to El Salvador’s five.

The Bahamas moved the ball around very well in this game as they had 18 assists and 30 made shots.

Another key factor that was in favor of The Bahamas was the three-pointers. The Bahamas shot 62.5 percent from beyond the arc while El Salvador shot only 12.5 percent in the game. The Bahamas shot a very efficient 5-for-8 from three-point land. Kendi Outten was a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the three-point line. Lightbourne, Moultrie and Baptiste hit one three-pointer each.

The Bahamas shot 42 percent from the field, going 30-for-71. El Salvador was 21-for-60, shooting 35 percent from the field.

In the third quarter, El Salvador tried to cut into the lead. The Bahamas kept the tempo and momentum in their favor. The score was 60-50 in favor of The Bahamas going into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Team Bahamas played with a lot of energy. With 3:41 remaining, Collins grabbed an offensive rebound off of Erin Williams’ missed lay-up. She put it back up for two to give her team their largest lead of the afternoon at 20 points. The score was 72-52 in favor of The Bahamas. That capped a 10-0 scoring run that was started by Danae Malcolm on an assist from Butler with 9:37 remaining.

El Salvador had no answer for the high-energy Bahamian team in the fourth quarter. The Bahamas won the quarter 19-9, and won the game 79-59.

The Bahamas is in Group B with El Salvador, Guatemala and host nation Puerto Rico. Mexico, Barbados, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are in Group A.

The Bahamas plays Puerto Rico tonight at 8 p.m. It will be a real test for The Bahamas.

“I am very happy and proud of the win. I will be going back to the drawing board and getting us ready to play Puerto Rico,” Clarke-Davis said.

Collins said that they have to stay focused on getting a win against Puerto Rico.

Clarke-Davis has a lot of confidence in the team and thinks that they will fare very well as they look to move through the tournament and come out with a medal.

Team Bahamas has to finish in the top three in order to qualify for the 2020 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Under-18 Championships.

If The Bahamas can feed off of this game and raise the bar the rest of the way, they could be in the top three.

The team was ratified by the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) last Thursday and departed for Puerto Rico on Friday.

Sports Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
Lessons from the flo
The Bahamas finishes