By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
District 3’s BVI Ballers overcame stubborn District 6 Elite Ballers late in the fourth quarter for a thrilling 49-45 victory, to close the 25th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. 16-18 Basketball Classic, hosted by the Sea Cows Bay Basketball Club on Friday night.
“We were right by the finish line and failed to cross it first. The game was a really, really competitive,” District 6 Coach Carnel Cyine told Island Sun Sports exclusively. “Coming down to the end, the guys put a lot of confidence in themselves and they played the game the right way because it came down basically to a one possession game tied at 45-45, with about 1:17 left. We had two free throws to make and missed them and basically, then after that, the opposing team went up by four points and cost us the game coming down to the end.”
Kymal Panchoo led BVI Ballers with 14 points and Zach Jackson added 10 with another eight coming from Raphael Singh. Nathan Francis was Elite Ballers top scorer with 14 points and five rebounds. D’relle Clyne dropped another 10 on the stat sheet.
“We had a real battle there. The opposing team, they really came to fight today, they didn’t want to lose,” told Island Sun sports. “They made us push hard and try to get the best from down in our gut, but we pulled through. I think the guys could have done a lot better, we were playing a little shaky, but we still came out on top.”
Thomas said they didn’t play proper defense and offensively, they weren’t together either but they eventually pulled through after his team was coming off a loss to Skillful Ballers.
“To prepare for this game, I worked a lot on defense but at the same time, the loss to Skillful Ballers, we had six guys and one of them had four fouls so we were in foul trouble,” he recalled. “They were tired, they couldn’t keep the pressure on, they were too tired to put up shots but I saw we need a lot of improvement on defense so we worked on defense. We still have a long way to go but we’re getting there.”
Clyne said rebounds and turnovers killed his team.
“In this whole entire series—not just tonight’s game,” he pointed out. “In this whole tournament, it was failing to rebound, failing to be careful with the ball with the turnovers, that’s what killed us for the entire series.
District 5’s Willful Skillful and District 7’s Wolfpack, double forfeited in the first game.
“Sometimes we try to engage these young people with tournaments and leagues and when you have tournaments, particularly a tournament such as this, you expect to have a championship game so you put a schedule out listing a championship game,” event organizer Milton McLean said. “However, as it being a straight league where each person played each other once and you didn’t have any brackets, Virgin Gorda’s Team Elite came out with a 4-0 record, therefore, there was no need for a championship game. And so, it seems some people feel there should have been a championship game and because there was not championship game, they decided not to come out and participate.”
Thomas commended McLean for the work he has been doing organizing events for youngsters since he formed the Sea Cows Bay Basketball Club on April 1, 1994. He told Island Sun Sports that a lot more people need to come out and support not this this league but all other leagues.
“Support the young youths in their development,” Thomas said. “They need the support of family, friends, anyone who has something to contribute to the development of the youth. This is great. It’s fun to watch. So hats off to McLean…a special man.”
In awards doled out afterwards as follows;
Most Points: Antwon Robinson, Wolfpack, District 7, 86.
Most Rebounds: Nathan Francis, Elite Ballers, District 6, 41.
Most Steals: Reaquan Garroway, Elite Ballers, District 6, 17.
Most Assists: Verne Frett Jr. Elite Ballers, District 6, 10
Most Blocks: Kyron Walwyn, Skillful Ballers, District 5, 14.
MVP: Jahdique Winchester, Team Elite, District 9. 68 points, 4 rebounds, 7 steals, 1 assist, 3 blocks.