After four consecutive knockout finals, Harrison College are finally kings of the Co-operators General Insurance-sponsored National Sports Council’s Under-16 Schools Basketball Championship after defeating Graydon Sealy 50-38 in overtime today at the Barbados Community College.
The Crumpton Street, St Michael school led Graydon Sealy after three quarters 10-4, 19-10 and 32-22. But Graydon Sealy put in a gutsy performance to come from behind and tie the scores at 34-34 to force extra time.
In those five minutes of added time Harrison College was given too much space and opportunity by Graydon Sealy’s defenders and they controlled that period to take charge of the thrilling contest.
Akobi Forde top scored with 13 points, Ajanni Searles had ten and Simeon Maynard added nine. Maynard’s efforts were particularly laudable as one of the youngest players on the Harrison College team at 12.
Brandon Ruck was the only player to reach double figures for Graydon Sealy with 13 points. Despite the defeat, Graydon Sealy must be commended for their never-say-die attitude throughout the game.
An ecstatic Dario McCollin, coach of Harrison College, told Barbados TODAY they were blessed with a great bunch of players who were disciplined, hardworking at training and willing to take criticism.
Even though pleased with the outcome, McCollin explained they got a bit too complacent in today’s knockout final and would have to brush up on that when they meet Graydon Sealy this Saturday at the same venue in the Under-16 league final starting at 5 p.m.
“We went away from what we were doing which took us to that point . . . We started to relax like it was over but the wake-up call came when the scores were locked and the game went into overtime. They [Harrison College] did what they were supposed to do, the disciplined defence brought us to this point right now,” said McCollin, who noted that his players were hungry and would not be satisfied until they had completed the double.
At the beginning of the third quarter Graydon Sealy showed a bit more urgency being down nine points and needing to take momentum away from Harrison Colleege. Renaldo Simmons and Arrio Pope started things off with respective twos but Harrison College maintained their lead four minutes into the third quarter when Searles scored, followed by a three-pointer from Forde that took them to 24 and kept the advantage with Harrison College.
Maynard decided to join the fun with a three- pointer of his own that had supporters in a frenzy and it was plays like those that allowed them to reach 30 points along with two free throws from Jaden Walker with under a minute left. At 32-20 to Harrison College and just seconds on the board Ruck scored an unbelievable basket when he shot the ball from way outside the three-point line through the hoop with only four seconds on the board.
The game-changer came in the fourth and decisive quarter with the scores 33-25 to Harrison College when Makhaya Shaw nailed a three-pointer to make it 28 points for Graydon Sealy.
Harrison College’s coach called time out knowing the deficit of only five points was very gettable. Ruck dribbled past the opposition’s defence into the paint, seeking out other shooters. He was fouled and the resulting free throws saw Graydon Sealy reach 30.
Unfortunately for Graydon Sealy, though, Simmons fouled out and a minute later Joshua Franklyn of Harrison College was also signalled by referee Gillian Martindale that he too had to go after conceding five fouls.
Ruck went on the attack again but missed the lay-up but Shaw perhaps silently said fear not as he scored off the rebound to tie the scores at 34-34 with 47 seconds on the board in which neither side managed to find the basket.
In extra time it was clear both sides came out with a game plan but Harrison College’s strategy worked the better.
They set a number of screens that provided enough space for Walker to drive to the basket for two points, followed by Maynard with a fake before going up to the basket for two more that had spectators buzzing and made Graydon Sealy’s coach Sean Jones call time out with under three minutes on the board.
Whatever instructions were given led to Graydon Sealy collecting two points immediately on resumption. But thoughts of a Graydon Sealy resurgence were a bit premature as Forde and Maynard went on a decent run and both found the hoop quite easily to shut out the Graydon Sealy and clinch the game by 12 points.
As to be expected Graydon Sealy’s players were very emotional after playing unbeaten and then losing the final. Jones said they were disappointed but would look to focus their attention now on winning the league.