By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
With the BVI Basketball Federation introducing a District League format this year, both Virgin Gorda teams are on the cusp of history after advancing to the best of five championship series that opens on Friday night. They have been in this position before, but only one delivered.
Victories by both the Sr. and Jr. Bayside Blazers—who are historically known as the Mystics with the Sr. team being the reigning champs from 2017 as there was no league in 2018-2020 since Hurricane Irma—could mark the first time in league history that no Tortola team was crowned champions. The Sr. team will face the A’s who returned to the championships for the first time in 41 years.
Since the resumption of play in 2005 following the 2003-2004 construction of the Multipurpose Sports Complex, the Jr. Mystics swept the first four division crowns 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Historically the Mystics, a name change as part of a sponsorship agreement, both teams are called Bayside Blazers this season.
After thrilling the home faithful with a 78-62 victory on Saturday, Jr. Blazers handed Jr. East Rockers a 73-69 loss, for their trip to the final against the Jr. Skillful Ballers and Z6ne Bay Youths winner.
N’Kel Stevens led Jr. Blazers with a 21 points 19 rebounds double double. Lekoy Lennard followed up with 17. Ryan Lamlall added 13, with Tekoy Richardson and Demeron Glasgow dropping in 10 each.
Ken-Norris Pitt was Jr. Rockers leading scorer with 14. Deshawn Doyley had a 13 points 13 boards double and M’Khori Crabbe added another 11.
The Sr. Blazers advanced to meet the A’s, after a 91-77 home win. Stephano Paul and Killven Samuel, finished with 17 and 16 points and seven rebounds respectively. Kimron Telemaque added 15 and veteran Gary “The Glove” Hillhouse, 10. They won Friday’s opener, 112-47.
Ray Victor powered the Guns and narrowly missed a double double with a game high 29 points and nine rebounds. Nathan France finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
After being outscored 26-18 in the fourth quarter, the A’s fended off Mega Mix, 85-80, to advance to their first championships since 1980 against Bayside Blazers. Mega Mix began the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run and erased the A’s 13 points 67-54 lead. Their 16-5 run over the first 5:40, saw them tying the game at 72-72 with 4:20 left. But the A’s outscored Mega Mix 13-6, over the final stretch.
Shakeem Blackmore led the A’s with a game high 27 points to go with eight rebounds and four steals. Azim Beazer poured in 18 and pulled 16 off the glass. Jevon Demming finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Josh Victor 12 and Juan “Juany” Richards pulled 12 off the rack to go with his seven points.
Mega Mix got 25 points, 16 rebounds and four steals from Douron Phillip. Tavon Phillip followed up with a 21 points 14 boards, double double and five steals. Devonte Brewley added another 14.
“Tough game. I even ain’t have a voice to talk about the game,” A’s Coach Hemant Doodnaught told Island Sun Sports. “Bash (Brian Brewley) is a legend in basketball. He made it really tough for us getting through (to the finals) and we’re here now. We were up 10, 14 points and those guys made their way back so it was tough, tough, tough, but I’m really proud of my guys. They did all the hard work.”
Brewley said while he’s not blaming the referees, things didn’t go his team’s way and his team had to fight for it. “Not taking anything from District Four, they put in the work and I’m proud to see them moving on,” he said.
The A’s are in the championships for the first time since 1980 against the East Rockers—a series that ended prematurely and had no declared winner. They won the 1979 title. Doodnaught described it as a ‘huge accomplishment’ for his team.“When we started out, we had a terrible loss and a lot of doubters,” he noted. “From game to game, we’ve been getting tighter as a team and I’m really just proud of the guys and the progress we made. Anything is possible. We came from being, 4th, 5th seed and we’re here right now, so I think at the end of the day, it’s going to go who wants it most.”