Discover 246 Cavaliers have now added the inaugural Digicel NexGen Under-23 Independence Basketball Invitational title to their well-stocked trophy cabinet.
Playing against Gatorade Pinelands Sunday night before scores of enthusiastic basketball supporters at the Barbados Community College, Cavaliers coached by Adrian Craigwell and captained by Joel Hunte commanded proceedings over the first three quarters 16-14, 26-23, 51-38, before emerging victors at 76-59. Pinelands had entered the tournament as the number one seed and came into the final unbeaten.
Hunte led from the front with a game-high 20 points but when the curtain came down on what was a keenly contested final, the Most Valuable Player in last night’s game was awarded to Cavaliers’ top forward Zachary Cave who scored 16 points. Anand Joseph Thorne chipped in with 13. The big men of Cavaliers Romario Hutson and Jamario Clarke contributed ten points each.
Even though they trailed throughout Pinelands ensured the score-line remained very close after the first three quarters. On resumption after half time Cavaliers got down to business starting with a two pointer from Hunte followed by another from Clarke who plays Division One basketball for Police.
That took the score onto 34-26 and Pinelands as expected began to hustle with their captain and tournament’s Most Valuable Player Derion Hurley attacking Cavaliers’ defence and forcing them to foul which they did – especially Clarke. Hurley earned himself three free throws which he netted to increase his team’s tally to 29, then Lodge School student Kiserian Adams followed with an easy layup that took the Pinelands unit to 31.
Adams had 18 points on the night and Hurley 12 for the runners-up who did their best to keep close to the opposition and ensure their scoreboard kept ticking over. However, Cavaliers upped their momentum a notch and forced Pinelands coach Charles Vanderpool to call two time-outs in that quarter to settle his troops.
Cavaliers, also the reigning Under-19 basketball kings, entered the fourth quarter with a 13-point lead and they wasted no time on the offensive end with a two point shot from Cave followed by a monstrous dunk from Hunte sending Pinelands a clear message that his team would not be denied. Even though Hurley and company tried their best to stay in it Cavaliers were long gone with the game and the trophy.
Hunte gave credit to the mini-league programme which he described as one system where everybody played together and knew what was expected of them.
“Honestly, this was a good tournament. I like the fast pace game and it is much faster than the under-19. There are less stoppages and more smooth [play]. The final was surreal. Both teams came out hard and hard luck for Pinelands because we came hard and they came hard but this was our revenge having lost the Premier League to them. So we did not want to lose this too,” said the 19-year-old who thanked his mother Dawn Reid and especially coach Craigwell for his hard work and dedication to the team.
The third place game went to Challengers with a big upset over Vega Investments Warrens 71-69 in overtime after player of the game Ashley Smith of Challengers tied the game at 58-58 during regulation time with under 1 second remaining. Smith led with 25 points while teammates Chemar Steele scored 13, Christopher Holder 12 and Nathaniel Waithe 11. Top scoring for Warrens were Jonathan Dottin with 22 points and Makaari Jones, 11.
There were five outstanding players of the tournament and they are Derion Hurley and Kadeem Brathwaithe of Pinelands, Joel Hunte and Zachary Cave of Cavaliers and Jonathan Dottin of Warrens.