By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
No one will ever know if the Virgin Gorda Bayside Blazers would have won both divisions of the inaugural BVI Basketball Federation District League Championships, after Game five of the Jr. Bayside Blazers and Jr. Skillful Ballers game was recorded as a forfeiture and the championship awarded to Jr. Skillful Ballers on Saturday night.
Jr. Skillful Ballers set up the one game showdown for the title by beating Jr. Bayside Blazers, 87-75 on Friday and evened the series at 2-2. The game was never played on Saturday, as concerns were raised as to who would referee the game.
Jr. Bayside Blazers’ Coach Trevor “West” Stevens told JTV’s Cathy Richards that the Jr. Skillful Ballers Coach went to the scorer’s table and said he didn’t want the two referees assigned to the game, then the referees were changed.
“By them changing the referee, we said we were not playing because that’s not professional,” Stevens said. “A team can’t pick who they want to referee, so that’s the situation and we’re not playing…let the game forfeit.”
Jr. Skillful Ballers Coach Ronnie “Gola” Norman said it isn’t the way he expected to win the championship. He expressed concerns about referees Norval Young and Yulissa Hurtado calling the game and early in the week, sent a letter to the BVI Basketball Federation. When they saw them suited up, he said that he told Vice President Jason Edwin about the letter and was told the two referees won’t be in the game.
“I left and went to Carolyn George to confirm that she had given (president) Dereck Varlack the letter and she said she did,” Norman noted. “When I came back, I saw the Virgin Gorda team walking out. I guess they wanted Norval to referee the game and it wasn’t happening so they actually turned off and left.”
Norman said he had concerns aboutYoung and Hurtado’s calls that weren’t fair against his team in previous games in his opinion and knew if he was calling the game, he was going to lose.
BVI Basketball Federation Public Relations Officer Eustace “Boss” Freeman said there were discrepancies as to who would referee the game. “The coach from the Virgin Gorda team doesn’t want to play, based on the referees who were scheduled tonight and elected to take his team back to Virgin Gorda,” Freeman stated, speaking to JTV. “It’s a very unfortunate event but based on the rules of the game and of course, we had to forfeit the game and name the Jr. Skillful Ballers, the champions.”
Bayside Blazers overpowers A’s
MVP Kimron Telemaque and Stephano Paul had 18 points respectively, in helping Bayside Blazers—who won the 2017 title as the Mystics but are using the Blazers’ name under a sponsorship agreement—overpower the A’s, 98-74 for the senior division title. It marked the second time in the league’s 47 year history, a team had won the title using two different names in back to back championships. Hurricane Irma and the pandemic affected the last three seasons.
“Man, it feels so good to be back in the winner’s circle ,” Bayside Blazers Coach Rhennie “Gumba” Phipps told Island Sun Sports, after getting an additional 16 points from Frank Quashie, 13 points and seven rebounds from veteran Gary “The Glove” Hillhouse and 12 points, five rebounds and four assists from Killven Samuel. “They (A’s) messed up our blank slate—we wanted to go (through the league) undefeated, but we still came through. It’s a big win and we’re excited about the win.”
A’s Coach Hemant Doodnaught said it was a tough loss for his team in its first championship since 1983. “They had an adjustment for everything we tried, they just came out with an intensity we couldn’t match,” he pointed out. “We got outplayed, simple as that.”
Phipps said they wanted to push the ball early and get them in foul trouble. “Once we go up and down with them, they can’t stop us, so that’s what we were trying to do,” he explained. “Defensively, we wanted to go man (to man) and put the pressure on them early.”
Doodnaught said shots weren’t falling for his team and they turned over the ball many times. “With a team like this, every turnover is an easy bucket for them,” he noted.
Jevon “Bugs” Demming had 18 points to lead A’s scores, to go with five rebounds, four steals and three assists. Juan “Juany” Richards added 16, grabbed seven rebounds and had four blocks. Shakeem Blackmore added 15 to the tally while Azim Beazer finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, dished out six assists and had four steals. Noel Mc Kelly, dropped another 11 on the stat sheet.