Nikolai Burton stamped his authority with a game-high 24 points to lead Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Wildcats to their second consecutive Barbados Amateur Basketball Association under-19 title against Future Pinelands last night at the Barbados Community College.
Burton was named the final’s most valuable player while teammate Joel Hunte grabbed the most outstanding league player award as the pair brought their A game which was good enough to give Wildcats a 74-57 win having led at the quarters, 13-9, 34-19 and 54-33.
Speaking after the game Burton told Barbados TODAY his intention this year was to play hard and thanks to the YMCA programme he was able to perform at his best.
“I believe that all children who want to learn the fundamentals of basketball should attend the YMCA programme on Saturdays around three. This programme afforded me the opportunity to take the next step in my basketball career because they break down everything for you in every aspect so that we can become fundamentally strong to play against any team on any court anywhere,” said Burton, who now has his eyes set on leading reigning champions Harrison College to yet another National Sports Council division one basketball title in what will be his final year at the school.
Those who came out to witness what the future of Barbados basketball looks like got their monies worth yesterday when Burton who plays forward signalled his intention at the beginning with a huge slam-dunk and even had time to pose for the cameras.
Teammate Hunte netted 16 and tallied at least five of those in the first quarter while Antone Lawrence contributed a total of 12 in the game. Those two helped Burton to take the fight to Pinelands who had their captain Derion Hurley give his all for 19 points. The lanky Jehu Lafeuille had 17 and Kadeem Brathwaite, ten, but they did not receive the kind of assistance needed from the others. Young Rasheed Maynard and company tried to hit shots but just did not connect when the opportunity presented itself.
Wildcats were much stronger on the offensive and defensive end and had a 14-point advantage heading into the third quarter in which Burton was responsible for scoring two that brought Wildcats to 40 and from there on the defending champions never looked back. Their captain Anand Joseph-Thorne who scored nine in the game took charge at that point. Joseph-Thorne, Burton and Hunte are all products of Harrison College and they took the attack to Pinelands on the offensive end moving the score to 48-30. Points from Hunte, Burton and Lawrence then took their side to 54 as Pinelands found difficulty responding.
In the fourth quarter Pinelands were way behind and needed something special and their trio of Hurley, Lafeuille and Brathwaite showed up and managed to give Pinelands’ crew something to shout about. Lafeuille hit the board to put them on 40 and from their Hurley got in the thick of things and managed to nail nine in that quarter and two of those points allowed Pinelands to reach 50. But despite that commendable effort when they scored 24 points to Wildcats’ 20, it was a bit too late as the deficit was too substantial to overcome.
In the third place game Combermere were victorious 80-56, after leading at each quarter at 22-10, 41-25 and 61-42.