It was a demoralizing defeat for the defending champions, Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins, as the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) Championships got underway yesterday at Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road.
After leading for nearly the entire game, the Mystic Marlins blew victory in the final two minutes of the game and the resilient C.I. Gibson Rattlers took the opening game in their best-of-three championship series which continues on Friday. The Rattlers won 66-63 and lead the mini series one game to none. The Rattlers senior girls also prevailed, taking down the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves in game one of that series, 35-28.
In the junior boys division, the four-time defending champs D.W. Davis Royals continued an undefeated season, doubling up the Timberwolves in game one of that series, 64-32; and in the junior girls division, the defending champions T.A. Thompson Scorpions eked past the H.O. Nash Lions, 35-34.
Rattlers 66, Mystic Marlins 63
The defending champions Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins led by as much as 15 points in the first half, and 13 in the second but just could not put away the C.I. Gibson Rattlers last night.
The Rattlers took their first lead of the game, 61-60, on a driving lay-up by Sahead Sanusi with 2:08 remaining in the game, much to the delight of their screaming fans. Moments later, after being dominated on the boards all game, the Rattlers got a key offensive from big man Fredrick King. King had a huge outback lay-up and was fouled on the play. He completed the three-point play to give the Rattlers a four-point cushion, 64-60.
Struggling to find any offensive rhythm, the Mystic Marlins turned the ball over with 33.8 seconds remaining on the clock and Emaniel Alexandre, who had a huge game for the Rattlers, raced the other way for a transition basket, giving his team a 66-60 lead and sealing the win. Matthew Saunders banked in a three-point shot with just .3 seconds remaining for the Mystic Marlins and they were able to steal the inbounds pass, but a wild attempt went out of bounds and the Rattlers celebrated a hard-fought but unlikely game one win.
Alexandre thrived in transition for the Rattlers, particularly in the second half, and finished with a game-high 23 points. Jaden Strachan had some key baskets and added 13 for the Rattlers. King powered in 12, all in the second half, and Chad Smith contributed 10 before being ejected for a double forearm to the facial area of Mystic Marlins’ guard Maleek Pierre late in the fourth quarter.
National team player Joshua Burrows led the Mystic Marlins with 15. Saunders added 13, Richard Lowe and Brandon Francis scored nine apiece, and Pierre and Antjuan McFarlane dropped in seven apiece. No other player scored for the Mystic Marlins.
They took a 20-13 lead after the first quarter, built that lead to as much as 15 before the Rattlers cut it to 34-26 at the half, and then increased the lead to 13 before the rattlers pulled even at 49 at the end of three. A 10-2 scoring run late in the third quarter got the Rattlers back in the game.
Still it wasn’t until the 2:08 mark of the final period when the Rattlers took their first lead of the game. They never relinquished it, going on to steal game one of the best-of-three series.
Game two is set for Friday.
Rattlers 35, Timberwolves 28
A 12-2 burst in the third quarter enabled the C.I. Gibson Rattlers senior girls to pull away from the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves last night, and they went on to win comfortably, 35-28, taking game one of their best-of-three championship series.
The game was close throughout the first half. The Timberwolves had the first blow, taking a 12-8 advantage after one and holding on to a slim 16-15 lead at the break. However, the Rattlers increased their defensive intensity in the third quarter which forced turnovers and created opportunities in transition for them. They outscored the bewildered Timberwolves 12-2 in the third and was able to hold their counterparts at bay, winning comfortably last night.
Glennia Sands had 15 for the Rattlers. Kia Brice added eight, Judea Rahming dropped in five and Jeansline Carson scored four. Laverne Armbrister had 15 for the Timberwolves and Choia McDonald scored four.
Royals 64, Timberwolves 32
The junior boys result was never in question as the D.W. Davis Royals took control of this game early and dominated play throughout.
They led 13-6 after the opening quarter and were ahead 26-18 at the break. The Royals quickly pushed the lead to double-digits as the second half got underway and cruised to victory last night. By the end of the third quarter, they were already ahead 42-25. They continued to apply the pressure in the fourth and coasted to the 32-point victory.
Frank Wallace scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter to help the Royals open a double-digit lead and pull away from the upstart Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves. Philip Dawkins added 15 points for the Royals and Stefon Johnson contributed 10.
Michael Finley led the Timberwolves with 10 points. Elijah Roker and Derrick Edgecombe scored eight apiece.
Scorpions 35, Raptors 34
In what was the closest game of the day, and in what is expected to be the toughest series in the GSSSA, the defending champions and pennant-winning T.A. Thompson Scorpions gained the upper hand on perennial champions, the H.O. Nash Lions.
These two teams have been heads and heels above the competition in the junior girls division of the GSSA all season, and a championship rematch was looming. Game one of the championship rematch was going the Scorpions’ way for the majority of the game, but they still had to hold off a late rally to prevail.
The Scorpions led 12-8 after the opening quarter and were ahead 18-16 at the half. They took a 28-21 lead after three quarters and the writing appeared to be on the wall. However, the never-say-die Lions battled all the way back, just falling short by one point in the end.
Adena Webster was unstoppable all game for the Scorpions, leading the way with a game-high 22 points. Dominiqua Rolle added 10 and Brianna Fernander scored two. Shenell Stewart paced the Lions with a side-high 14. Geraniqua Bethel and Trinity Cartwright scored six apiece and Serenity Cartwright dropped in four.
Game two in all four series will be played on Friday at Loyola Hall.