Hugh Campbell title goes to Sunland

Back in the place where it all started, the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium, the championship game of the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic was a one-sided affair last night as the Grand Bahama-based Sunland Baptist Stingers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.

They walloped the C.C. Sweeting Cobras, prevailing 81-68 in a wire-to-wire victory in the championship game of the 37th annual classic on Monday night. It was the first Hugh Campbell championship for Sunland and the first Hugh Campbell championship game at A.F. Adderley in more than a decade. It was also the first Hugh Campbell championship for Jay Phillippe as a high school head coach in The Bahamas and it came against the team he started out with in high school, C.C. Sweeting Senior High.

“This feels great. I’m still a Nassau guy, but it feels good to win and it’s extra special to beat C.C. Sweeting in the championship game,” said Phillippe last night. “We work every day on shooting the basketball and it showed tonight. We came out and made shots early in the game and created some separation. That was key for us tonight.”

Most Valuable Player (MVP) Rolontae Knowles got the Stingers started early with a couple of three point shots from the left corner. They scored the first eight points of the game before the Cobras finally got on the scoreboard on a putback layup from Haywood Seymour. From there, the Stingers gained momentum and executed flawlessly when they needed to the most. They built as much as a 17-point lead in the first half and were never threatened the rest of the way. The Stingers led 19-12 after the opening quarter and 38-25 at the half. The Cobras got no closer than 12 points in the second half.

“Our strategy was just to get back in transition defense and protect the basket. We knew that C.C. is a team that scores in transition, so that was our major focus,” said Phillippe. “We have good shooters too, so we knew that once we shot the ball well, executed and got back in transition we would have been successful. I’m very proud of these guys. They put in the work and they came out on top tonight. Given what happened to the northern Bahamas with Hurricane Dorian in September, we really wanted to win this one for Grand Bahama and we came out here and did that. We won every game by double digits in this tournament and that is a good feeling. That was a tremendous feat for us and we’re very happy with that. Our boys played exceptionally well.”

As the second half progressed, it was clear that the Stingers were gradually sucking the life out of the Cobras, denying them a sixth Hugh Campbell championship. C.C. Sweeting remains tied with C.I. Gibson and Catholic High with five Hugh Campbell titles apiece, tied for second behind the eight won by Tabernacle Baptist Academy.

The Stingers led by as much as 22 points in the third quarter before settling for a 58-42 cushion going into the final stanza. The Cobras never threatened the rest of the way.

“Hats off to them. They played well and they deserve to win,” said Cobras’ Head Coach Wayde Watson last night. “I have to say congratulations to my boys as well. We weren’t expected to be here but we made it to the championship game and fought hard. We lost our composure and weren’t able to finish, but that’s not taking anything away from Sunland. You have to tip your hat to Sunland tonight. We were playing catch up all night. A few times we made some runs and tried to get back in the game, but they came right back and made a few shots and took us out of our rhythm. You have to give them credit.”

Knowles was fantastic for the Stingers, dropping in 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting. He was 3-for-5 from distance and added seven assists, three rebounds and three steals. Juvens Loucious came off the bench to score 19 points and had six huge steals for Sunland. DeAndre Hield added 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Junior national team player Oswald Meadows had a strong all-around game with eight points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. Martie Davis added eight points and 10 rebounds for Sunland.

“We just came out, listened to our coaches, stayed disciplined and played our type of basketball,” said Knowles, now in his senior year. “We weren’t letting them take us out of our rhythm. We knew they were going to make a run, but we stayed focussed and came out on top. To win the school’s first Hugh Campbell championship is a good feeling. We’re looking forward to celebrating this win.”

Cobras’ captain Christian Manace had a game-high 24 points for his team, 18 of which came in the second half. Seymour added 17 points and had 13 rebounds and Rickey Moxey was their only other player in double figures with 10 points and he added 11 rebounds.

In total, the Stingers shot 56.1 percent from the floor (32-for-57) and 46.2 percent from three point land (6-for-13), compared to 35.9 percent from the floor (23-for-64) and 23.5 percent from distance (4-for-17) for the Cobras. They also outscored the Cobras 33-17 in transition, 46-32 in the paint, 25-11 in bench scoring and 17-7 in second chance points.

The Hugh Campbell title is the first for Sunland Baptist but it’s the 20th for the island of Grand Bahama in the 37-year history of the event. They now lead the all-time series against New Providence, 20-17. With the Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships still being up in the air at this point, the Stingers are as close to a national champion as there is, particularly with their dominant win last night.

They very well could end the year as the consensus number one high school basketball team in the country.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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