By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Hosts Elmore Stoutt High School Rams, split their 2nd Invitational Basketball Tournament titles with the visiting Eudora Kean Devil Rays of St. Thomas over the weekend.
The tournament also attracted teams from Antilles of St. Thomas, St. John’s Gift Hill with the BVI’s St. Georges and the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies (VISTS) also in the mix.
After beating the Devil Rays 84-71 in Friday’s opener, the Devil Rays prevailed 84-78 early Saturday evening, to force a deciding game.
The Rams overpower the Devil Rays, 74-63 in the final for the title. Franklyn Penn led the Rams with a game high 24 points and Hodge added 21. Jahkeele Stevens and Emari Howe were the Devil Rays leading scorers with 11 points respectively.
Penn, who earned the tournament’s MVP award, said they didn’t play collectively in the loss to the Devil Rays.
“In the championship game, we came out and did everything to be supportive to win the game,” he said. “We played individual basketball in the semifinal—and you always need five men on the court to win a game—we played one on one most of the time and we were sorry. But for the championship, we played collectively. Everyone did what they had to do.”
Ronnie Cummings, whose Devil Rays toppled Antilles, 49-14 and VISTS, 62-13, said the tournament was a good learning experience and he hopes they can come back and win it all. “I think my guys just ran out of gas as we had a hard fight getting back into the championship game,” he said. “In the beginning of the final, we came out hard and then with the calls seeming to be going one way, I wouldn’t say my guys gave up, but their spirits were down. But it was a good fight. We always have a good fight with these guys.”
After losing to the Devil Rays three times in St. Thomas, Penn said beating them at home was special. “It made us feel that we have the upper hand in our home town,” he said. “And as well as when we return to St. Thomas next time.”
Nixon Hamilton and Tyler Jackson of Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies, won most blocks and most rebounds. The Devil Rays’ Dequan Solis and Emari Howe, grabbed most assists and most steals respectively.
IAA Commissioner Kenny Todman said it’s a nice tournament and there are things they can do to improve on it which he shared with organizers.
“I’m glad to see how it turned out. I’m sorry to see that the other schools—Charlotte Amalie, the bigger named schools—and some from St. Croix didn’t come over,” he said. “Hopefully next year, they can make the trip and make it a bigger event. This is a nice start for the Inter Scholastic Basketball Tournament over here. It was a nice one.”
Other scores: Antilles beat St. Georges, 38-26 and VISTS, 40-29.
Lady Devil Rays overhaul Lady Rams, 46-30
In the women’s matchup, led by MVP Ahlanea Cook and Delma Baron who picked up most steals, the Lady Rays opened with an 8-2 run and led 25-14 at the half en route to over hauling the Lady Rams, 46-30
“Our aim was to hustle, have team play and just do what we did in practice,” coach Dereck Heyleger said, noting that Cook, Baron and Alima Brontis played tough from the beginning. “We have been pretty good. The bulk of my scoring and ball handling has come from freshmen.”
Cook and Baron finished with 11 points respectively. Makela Pickering who had the most assists in the tournament, paced the Lady Rams with a game high 14 points. Shelcy Hodge followed up with 11.
The Lady Rays bested the Lady Rams, 43-22 in their first game and Antilles, 38-8. The Lady Rams got past Antilles, 37-14.
“I’m kind of happy with how the girls played but a lot of things can still be done better,” Lady Rams coach Eric Matthias said. “The last thing I told the girls is that we had a good run, a good fight, but, they need to commit. As a coach, I’m here to commit to their development and help them get better, but they also have to commit and sacrifice to get things better.”
Matthias said his squad need to work more and practice harder. “I’m there for them, but, they have to be there for me as well.”
When asked what they can build on, Matthias said recognizing team’s weaknesses, taking advantage of better or easier ways to score and playing a tight, honest solid game.
“There was too much reaching, too many bad habits that caused us the loss,” he explained. “But in time, once the girls keep coming and working hard and I keep getting better as a coach, I think we’ll do a lot better in the future.”