By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Captain Ray Victor, with just six men on his West Gunners squad, scored with seven seconds left to tie their game, 68-68, with Kennedy Stars in Cleo’s Miracle Basketball Explosion final, and Drew Phillip scored the winning basket during a second overtime after an 83-83 deadlock, for a thrilling 97-93 victory.
Romain Minott dropped in a game high 34 points for West Gunners while Phillip added 22 points and eight rebounds.
Franklyn Penn led Kennedy Stars with 21 points and pulled 10 boards. Deon Edwin poured in 16 and Steve Parillon, another 15 with seven rebounds to the tally.
“This victory went out to D’Moi (Hodge) his Mom put on the tournament and we had to defend for D’Moi,” Victor said. “He’s from the western side of the island and we played very hard. They younger team, they put up a great fight and they have some good players—great players—thanks to them for the for the competition.”
Kennedy Bass said it was a hard fought game with a last minute ‘put together team.’
“No excuses,” he stated. “We had double over time, they executed a lot better than us, they were the aggressors, they came out the champion, hats off to them.”
The tournament, organized by Cleopatra “Cleo” King-DeFreitas, raised funds for under privileged school children and Victor said was a good one since there was nothing since the Save The Seed Tournament last year.
“She brought back a little passion for basketball and a crowd. People came out to support. We as the players are excited to come out here and break a sweat. A long time we ain’t break a sweat. Thanks to Cleo, we got a little rhythm back. I hope this continues. We need tournaments to stay in tune.”
Bass said it was a good initiative and what players needed and there’s exciting games going on—what people want to see.
“She called me from day one to do my part, everybody did their part to ensure her tournament came off successful. I hope she has it next year and it’s not just a one off thing that we can have more basketball and more people doing things that we can get more interest in the game, fans out and we can get basketball back up and going again.”
Led by MVP Shakeem “Grindy” Tyson’s 17 points, 10 boards and 10 blocks triple double, East Rockers 2.0 fended off the VG Mystics, 54-50.
“They left it all on the floor. They gym was hot. They played hard. They stuck with it and in the end, they were victorious,” noted assistant coach Eju En Ka. “This morning I wrote them a whatsapp message that they need to put the discipline and hard work always win, winners never quit and quitters never win. They came tonight to give it everything they had and they were victorious.”
King-DeFreitas said it was an awesome tournament.
“I think this last game with the double overtime, they rhythm of the players, they were just into the game,” she noted. “They really wanted to win and they wanted this trip to St. Croix so they were fighting for it and that made a big difference.”
King-DeFreitas who had 19 surgeries since 2013, said words can’t describe what she felt about the tournament, as she was disappointed after starting off being sick in the early stages of planning and the process was moving slowly.
“But then the team came together. I had persons like Sherna (Robinson), Ereia (Smith), my Mother, my sister Evelyn who came on board and encouraged me not to give up,” she reflected. “It was really rewarding to see, especially on Saturday night, the crowd was good enough, the place was hot, but people still came out. Some persons came out all three nights. I thank them for that and next year will be bigger and better.”
In the opening games on Friday, Willful Skillful Jr., overpowered Shut Down, 50-39, while West Gunners trimmed the East Rockers, 70-67. East Rockers returned on Saturday to stop Willful Skillful Sr., 74-66. Kennedy Stars overhauled Cruz Control of St. Croix, 63-57, while the ESHS Rams Girls team romped past Green Team, 38-28.