Hosts Skillful Ballers fend off East Rockers 2.0 in 63-62 thriller

Skillful Ballers’ Diorys “Migo” Joseph, eludes East Rockers 2.0’s Hakeem Penn for two of his 19 points 

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Hosts Skillful Ballers fended off hard charging East Rockers 2.0 after being outscored 39-28 in the second half, to win their inaugural U20 Boys Basketball tournament in a 63-62 thriller on Sunday at the Multipurpose Sports Complex. 

St. Eustatius downed Virgin Gorda Ballers 66-48, to finish third.

After being down by 12 at the half where Skillful Ballers enjoyed a 35-23 lead, East Rockers 2.0 put their internal bickering aside and started chipping away at the lead and also capitalized on Diorys “Migo” Joseph’s absence with a leg cramp before returning later in the game and finished with 19 points. 

East Rockers 2.0’s Shakeem Tyson and Hakeem Penn, both scored the bulk of their respective 17 points during the 39-28 second half run. Penn pulled 13 rebounds and Tyson 12. Timron “The Goat” Nickie added another 14 points for East. 

Noel McKenzie had a game high 20 for Skillful Ballers while Nixon Hamilton pulled 21 off the rack to go with five points.  

“It was a good game. We came up short, but those guys were better organized than us,” East Rockers 2.0 coach Requan “Bambi” Fahie said of his team that was 12 points down at halftime. “We had a bit of an argument among our players but we overcame it, settled down, came back in the second half but still fall short. But, it was a great game overall.”

Captain Timron “The Goat” Nickie said the argument threw them off. 

“I would love a rematch. This is their first time beating East Rockers 2.0,” he said. “We’re tied at 1-1 so we have to break that tie.”

Skillful Ballers Captain Devonte “Vante” Brewley said the tournament was a great experience for many of the players especially the St. Eustatius team. He said they got to execute everything they did in practice and came out victorious.

“We lost focus for a bit (in the second half) but we managed to come out with the win,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a rematch anytime any day. Some of our players weren’t there when we went to St. Eustatius, but everybody is on deck now and we’re looking forward to that rematch.” 

Reflecting on East Rockers 2.0’s comeback, Coach and tournament coordinator Ronnie “Gola” Norma says everyone makes a run in basketball.

“When they started to make their run, my best player he actually got injured so it gave them a better chance of winning the game,” he said, after being told they’d like a rematch. “I’m willing anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”

Skillful Ballers opened the tournament with a 99-45 victory over the Virgin Gorda Ballers, then beat St. Eustatius, 64-28. East Rockers 2.0 pathway to the championship started with a thrilling 77-74 triple overtime win over St. Eustatius before trimming Virgin Gorda Ballers, 65-64.

Skillful Ballers U13s beat Time To Shine, 18-12 and their St. Eustatius counterparts, 39-19.

Skillful Ballers Tournament award recipients. Most Points: Noel McKelly, Skillful Ballers. Most Rebounds:Nixon Hamilton, Skillful Ballers. Most Assists: Zion Rivers, St. Eustatius. Most Steals: Requan Garroway, Skillful Ballers. Most Blocks: Shadiq McKenzie, St. Eustatius. Most Disciplined Player: Ryan Ramlall, Virgin Gorda Ballers. MVP: Noel McKelly, Skillful Ballers.