Rattlers head back to GSSSA finals

After leading for almost the entire game, the pennant-winning C.I. Gibson Rattlers had to rely on late-game heroics to pull off a slim 70-69 win over the upstart Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves last night, ending their Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) senior boys basketball playoff series in a two-game sweep at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium.

The Rattlers senior girls also booked their ticket into the GSSSA Championships, turning back the C.R. Walker Knights in game two of their playoff series, 36-27, and the D.W. Davis Royals and T.A. Thompson Scorpions won on the junior side as all four series ended in two-game sweeps. The pennant-winning Royals needed overtime to beat the C.H. Reeves Raptors, 55-52, and it was a double dose of losing for the Raptors as their junior girls also fell. The Scorpions won game two of that series, 30-20, to end that series in two games.

Senior boys

Rattlers 70, Timberwolves 69

After blowing a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, the Rattlers turned to big man Chad Smith in crunch time last night and he came through with the biggest shot of the season for his team. Smith buried a three-point shot from the right elbow in the final minute of the game, giving the Rattlers a 70-69 lead, and they held on to beat the Timberwolves by that same score, ending their season at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium last night.

Key three-point shooting gave the Rattlers the edge late in the first half and another trey gave them the victory in the final minute of the game. The Timberwolves had two opportunities to pull ahead after Smith’s huge three-point shot, but they turned the ball over with 26.4 seconds on the clock and after a shot clock violation from the Rattlers, Timberwolves’ forward Kevin Thompson missed a runner in the lane. The ball got tied up on the ensuing rebound, and with possession going the Rattlers way with just 1.2 seconds remaining on the clock, that was basically all she wrote for the Timberwolves.

The Rattlers advanced the ball and just needed a safe inbounds pass to seal victory. They got just that and will now head to the GSSSA Championships for the second year in a row.

A balanced scoring attack got the job done for the Rattlers as no player scored more than 10 points. Fredrick King led the way with 10 including some ferocious dunks, Santino Sawyer and Sahead Sanusi scored nine apiece and Smith and Emaniel Alexandre dropped in eight apiece.

Big man Randy Blanfort paced the Timberwolves with a game-high 22 points. Thompson contributed 17 and Steve Schurton added 11.

A pair of treys from Sawyer and another from James Delia highlighted a 14-2 run for the Rattlers in the middle of the second quarter, giving them a double-digit lead over the Timberwolves. They maintained a comfortable cushion until the Timberwolves were finally slapped with a sense of urgency about midway through the fourth quarter. They executed an 8-0 scoring run to get back in the game and even went ahead but costly turnovers down the stretch and clutch shooting from the Rattlers led to their demise.

The Rattlers led 14-13 after one, were up 37-28 at the half and took a 55-47 lead into the final quarter.

They held on down the stretch, and will now head to the GSSSA Championships for the second year in a row where they will face the winner of the other senior boys playoff series between the defending champions Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins and the C.C. Sweeting Cobras. The Mystic Marlins lead that series one game to none with game two set for tonight. The GSSSA Championships will get underway next week Monday.

Senior girls

Rattlers 36, Knights 27

The Rattlers took control of this game early, limiting the Knights to just two points in the opening quarter, and it was cruise control for them after that. They coasted to an easy win, 36-27, ending the Knights’ season in a two-game sweep last night at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium.

The Rattlers were ahead 15-2 after the first quarter, led 24-10 at the half, and took a 32-17 lead into the final quarter. The Knights got within single digits late in the game but it was too little too late for them.

Glennia Sands paced the rattlers with 15 points. Jeanshire Carson scored eight and Nathayla Lightbourne dropped in five. Alesha Curtis had 10 for the Knights. Kevinique Culmer scored six and Jayne Newry contributed four.

The Rattlers will face the winner of the other senior girls playoff series between the Timberwolves and the C.V. Bethel Stingrays in the championship series. The Timberwolves lead that best-of-three series one game to none with game two set for this evening.

Junior boys

Royals 55, Raptors 52 – overtime

The Royals appear headed for yet another GSSSA junior boys championship after turning back the C.H. Reeves Raptors, 55-52 in overtime, yesterday, ending that mini series in a two-game sweep.

The pennant-winning Royals were up just 11-9 after the first quarter and 24-19 at the break. The Royals took a slim 37-33 lead into the final quarter and the upset-minded Raptors gave them all they could handle before finally bowing out in the overtime session. The game was tied at 47 at the end of regulation.

Frank Wallace led the Royals with 18 points. Philip Dawkins added nine and Keon Cooper dropped in six. Johnathon Joseph paced the Raptors with a game-high 19. Dwayne Finly and Tollien Marshall scored eight apiece.

The Royals will now head to the GSSSA Championships where they will face the winner of the other junior boys playoff series between the Timberwolves and the S.C. McPherson Sharks. The Timberwolves lead that series one game to none with game two set for today.

Junior girls

Scorpions 30, Raptors 20

Determined to repeat as junior girls champions, the T.A. Thompson Scorpions wasted little time in disposing of the C.H. Reeves Raptors yesterday. They won easily, 30-20.

The pennant-winning defending champs took a 6-4 lead after the first quarter, were ahead 14-9 at the break, and increased that lead to 22-11 after three quarters.

Adena Webster led the Scorpions with a game-high 11 points. Dwaynae Knowles and Dominiqua Rolle dropped in eight apiece. Fara Louissant led the Raptors with six points. Vantesie Davis scored four and Janae Ariste and Jilleisha Brown dropped in three apiece.

The Scorpions will now return to the GSSSA Championships where they will face the winner of the other junior girls playoff series between the H.O. Nash Lions and the D.W. Davis Royals. The Lions lead that series one game to none with game two set for today.

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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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