The 2016 Massy United Insurance Senior Girls Basketball League title will remain at Government Hill for a second consecutive year.
Springer Memorial held firm with a 45-43 result against a strong St Michael School team this afternoon at the latter’s Martindale’s Road, St Michael location. The contest went into extra time and the victorious side coached by Francis Thompson and Dean Squires were the ones screaming, chanting and dancing when referee Gillian Martindale sounded the final whistle.
The final originally began Wednesday and had to be continued Thursday at 3:30 p.m. due to rain. It was a competitive battle with the regular time scores being 9-8, 18-19, 23-26 and 37-37 that forced the contest into four minutes extra time in an atmosphere of great rivalry between two of the better teams in this year’s competition.
That win was also sweet revenge for Springer who lost one game in the league to the said St Michael team that came into today’s final with an undefeated record but were unable to go all the way this time and break a nine-year drought of not winning a girls’ basketball title.
The Finals Most Valuable Player Rashanna Thorne top-scored with 19 points, Renee Burke had 14 and Jada Smith added seven. Meanwhile Zahra Ashby top-scored with 14 for St Michael School, Tower Lorde netted 13 and Alesha Squires had eight.
Springer Memorial led 37-35 in the final quarter when Zahra Ashby scored on the rebound to tie the scores 37-37. Following that junior national player Tower Lorde who was also named the League’s Most Valuable Player missed two free throws that could have perhaps been the winning shots with 35 seconds left to play.
Both teams had five team fouls each in that quarter which meant trips to the free-throw line on further infringements, and the teams gladly capitalized on this. With just four seconds to go, Springer earned themselves ball possession, forcing St Michael’s coaches to call a crucial time out and on resumption, Smith missed a shot from inside the paint.
In extra time, Lorde and Alesha Squires netted three points between them to take the tally onto 40-37 adding more pressure on Springer who responded well through Smith scoring two off an offensive rebound to cut the deficit by one point at 39-40. Then two of the more experienced players in Springer’s camp, Tricia Phillips and Renee Burke, netted four points between them to give the Government Hill girls a 43-40 advantage. But Kenya Alleyne of St Michael was given a bit too much breathing space and she netted a three-pointer to tie the scores at 43-43 to the delight of St the Michael School’s fans. Springer were under pressure yet again but Burke relieved their worries with a lay-up for two points that ultimately sealed the victory.
Speaking after the game, Springer’s victorious coach Thompson highlighted the fact that female basketball needed to be given priority and much more respect.
“The girls basketball needs a bigger push from the sports council level. We have sent more girls from this country on scholarships than boys, actually I would dare say off the back of my head, double or nearly triple. We have sent more girls to the United States to play basketball on scholarships than boys and yet we have to wait to hear when the tournament will start, we don’t know when a final is, where the finals will be, fixture keeps changing and the boys’ [competition] is more organized. The boys have sponsorship, we ain’t got none and I think that is a real disappointment in 2017, we are more enlightened and we are treating female sports really and truly shabbily,” Thompson said.
This is the third time Springer have won the league and Thompson credited their success to a strong desire to win and their Free Choice Activity programme facilitated at the school by coach Julie Phillips.
“Credit to St Michael, they fought hard and every time we thought that we got a bit of breathing room, they really did whatever it took however scrappy it was to get back into the game. But I just think that our girls at one point wanted it more, they were just hungrier than the other team,” he said.
The top five players in this year’s tournament are Thorne of Springer, Lorde and Alesha Squires from St Michael School, Stephiann Shephard of Christ Church Foundation and Latifah Wood of Graydon Sealy Secondary.