By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
With a 4-0 record, Virgin Gorda’s Team Elite landed the 25th Anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. 16-18 Basketball Classic title on Saturday night in Sea Cows Bay, after stopping District 7’s Wolfpack, 61-54 on Friday, then whipping District 3’s BVI Ballers, 83-60 on Saturday.
“The guys came out war ready and I gave them a motivational talk and they planned to keep the streak together, they got everything running smooth and they closed it out for us,” Team Elite Coach Joylon Wilson told Island Sun Sports of his team that got 24 points on Saturday from Jahdique Winchester after dropping 19 on Friday. “When we enter the finals, we’re going in with the same mindset because our strategy is to be aggressive, stay keen and focused on the defensive end.”
T’Koi Richardson followed up Winchester’s 24 with 18 points, eight steals and five rebounds. Rashad Waters added 12 with four steals and four rebounds while LeKoy Lennard—who dropped in a 15 points 10 rebounds double double on Friday—and Nickel Stevens poured in 10 to the tally respectively.
Kymal Panchoo led BVI Ballers with 20 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists. Zach Jackson followed up with 12 and five rebounds; Aaron Williams III, nine points, six rebounds and three blocks and Brandon Wynter, nine points, three rebounds and three blocks.
“I saw them trying to push as much as we could but we were short staffed with six guys,” BVI Ballers Coach Marshall Thomas said. “They’re young, they watch the scoreboard, they got a little discouraged, frustrated but we’ll be back here next weekend. Right now, we aren’t doing too good. That was two losses straight.”
District 5’s Skillful Ballers overpowered Elite Ballers of District 6, 46-30. Lenrique Austrie was their top scorer with 13 points and four rebounds. Kyron Walwyn finished with six points, six blocks, and three rebounds and James Hodge added another six points.
Nathan Francis finished with a game high 17 points 11 rebounds double double for Elite Ballers. Jaheem Gumbs followed up with five rebounds and four points.
“It was a relatively tough game due to the fact that Skillful Ballers made a lot of mental mistakes on defense and they’re turning over the ball sometimes unforced,” Coach Bryant Thomas told Island Sun Sports. “By them doing that, it puts pressure on our defense because when the ball sometimes, some of them bask in that and not get back on defense and that hurts the team. I’m just looking for the guys to come out and play as hard as they can every game, give it 100% and do the things that we do in practice.”
Elite Ballers Coach Carnel Cline told Island Sun Sports that his team came out, fought hard and basically got behind in the first and second quarters because of disorganized basketball.
“The guys weren’t really settled, then in the third quarter we picked it up and we closed the third quarter within seven points, because all the time, we were behind by 15, 16 points,” Cline noted. “After coming within seven, those guys just pulled away from us in the fourth quarter because of a lot of disorganized basketball, getting excited and a lot of turnovers is what killed us, basically.”
Through the tournament, Cline said his team has learned that they must be disciplined and composed.
“They have to come on the court really and truly, ready to play the fundamental basketball game,” he said. “They’ve realized that the referees are no nonsense, they’ll call the game the right way, the call may not go in your favor but basically, you have to do what you have to do, pick up the pieces and be able to get a W.”
Following Friday night’s Skillful Ballers and BVI Ballers game, opposing coaches got into an ugly confrontation after players were exchanging post game sportsmanship greetings, and had to be restrained. They were later suspended from the tournament and organizer Milton McLean followed up with an appeal to fans and parents, many of whom were taunting officials during the games.
“We’re appealing to parents and other spectators, who during the course of the weekend, were very disrespectful to the referees, even the scorers by using profanity and instigating violence,” he said. “We’re asking such persons, please, please, if you do not have self-control, you do not need to be around these young impressionable minds. We need you to stay at home. As a matter of fact, even if you’re a parent—parents who are going to swear and be disruptive—we’re please asking that you stay at home.”
The tournament wraps up on Friday and the current standings are:
1. Team Elite, 4-0
2. Skillful Ballers, 2-1
3. BVI Ballers, 1-2
4. Elite Ballers, 1-2
5. Wolfpack, 0-3