The Lodge School created history when they celebrated their first National Sports Council Senior Schools Knockout title in 24 years, compliments a hard-fought 69-65 victory over the Combermere School this afternoon at Pinelands Court.
Rachad Hall delivered a big performance as he produced a game high 26 points for Lodge who overcame a four-point half-time deficit, to hit back in the last two quarters and silence the Combermere and their supporters posse.
Tre Ward netted 16 points and Anthony Maynard, ten, supportING Hall on the offensive end for the new champions.
For Combermere, David Walkes put in a strong attacking display to lead the losers with 20 points while Makaari Jones chipped in with 15. The pair were one of the main reasons the Lodge School found themselves in plenty foul trouble.
Kiserion Adams did not have the best of games but still managed to chip in with 12 while Nicholas Hoyte had eight.
At half-time, the boys from Waterford, coached by Stuart Mayers, were in control having dominated the first and second stanzas, 17-15 and 31-27.
But Lodge upped their game on the offensive end to take a nine-point lead, 52-43 at the end of the penultimate quarter, and never looked back.
“It was not a challenge for us and as I told the guys before, once they play with positive energy throughout anything is possible,” said the Lodge School coach, Corey Shepherd.
“And the school motto says, ‘they can because they think they can” and as long as they believed in that, they could do anything. Charles really motivated the team in the second half and we try our best to keep the team positive,” he added, referring to former senior national captain, Charles Vanderpool, now a teacher at the school.
“To be honest this is the first year I have seen so much interest in Basketball at the school. So we got good things to look forward to in the future. As long as guys and girls are ready to work, we have great things to look forward to.”
Despite the loss, Combermere coach Mayers said they had the chance to make amends when they faced Lodge again in Wednesday’s league semi-final.
“It is not over yet, we have a semi-final against this very same team on Wednesday home at us and the result will be different. I say that without apology,” Mayers said.
“I am not taking anyway anything from Lodge. Hall hit an amazing shot at the end of the game, big players hit big shots and that was a big shot and well done to the team.
“They played well and there were things that we could have done. We turned over the ball a little too much in the first half and did the same thing in the second half and not being able to protect the basket.”
It all happened in the second half of the game as Lodge rallied to take the lead, before Combermere, down 56-59 in the decisive quarter, hit back to tie the scores at 59 when Walkes scored a couple and then adding one from the free throw line with under a minute to play.
The scores remained extremely close and Combermere went ahead 65-63 before before Hall and Kemar Benn scored key baskets to get Lodge over the top.