Believe in yourself and no one can stop you, preached victorious coach Adrian Craigwell last night, as Station Hill Cavaliers defended their Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Knockout title with a 65-53 result against Barbados Lumber Company Lakers.
It was three times the charm as Cavaliers bounce back from a two-quarter deficit at 10-20 and 30-31 to dominate the second half of the 2018 championship match 53-45 and 65-53 to repeat as kings for a third consecutive year.
Speaking shortly after his team’s excellent performance at the Wildey Gymnasium, coach Adrian Craigwell said for him it was a sweet victory not because of the rich history between his club and Lakers who are the reigning premier league champions, but because for the past few years they haven’t fielded a national player and have still managed to hold their own and decorate their heavily-laden trophy cabinet.
“This one going to be sweeter not because of the opponent but because of the progression of the team [Cavaliers], not being able to add any Barbadian [national] players in the last three to four years. No one comes to Station Hill, so we get these guys now coming through the system and delivering. We had Granville who is an American, last year we had a Trinidadian and the year before a Guyanese. So, it seems nobody wants to play for this team, so watching them progress will always be fun and joy for me,” said an elated Craigwell.
All season Station Hill has been playing as a team and that has made them triumphant against most teams and yesterday was no different. Those in double digits were Darren Hunte with a total of 15 points, captain Jason Smith contributed 12 inclusive of double treys and was offered great support from Granville Gittens and Saeed Norville with a tally of 11 and ten points respectively.
One of the keys to Cavaliers success was that coach Craigwell rotated his bench well according to the various set plays and again his power forwards Kelvin ‘Brown’ Patterson and Jamai Puckerin caused some problems for Lakers’ offence which looked good at the start but then began to misfire.
Scoring for Lakers, captain and point guard Keefe Birkett nailed four automatic treys, with two of them being hit in the opening stanza that went towards his overall total of 22 points. Power forward John Jones had a fair run in the first period scoring seven points, Adrian Allman and Ricardo Jemmott both had six points and captain Kregg Jones netted four.
Lakers’ defence looked porous with both John Jones and Kregg Jones being subbed in the third and fourth quarters respectively by coach Francis Williams to save them both from committing a fifth personal foul and avoid exiting the action. They returned to the court in the dying stages of the decisive quarter but not that it made any difference to the outcome.
The second half was a crucial one for both teams because there was no telling where the momentum would shift. And four minutes into the penultimate stanza at 40-38 in favour of Cavaliers, John Jones on a rare defensive play was able to rebound and send a long pass to the veteran Allman for a layup that tied the scores 40-40.
Cavaliers’ swingman Darren Hunte failed to put away two free throws which would have broken the deadlock. But he was given a second opportunity thanks to Lakers center Ricardo Jemmott who was found guilty by umpire Rene Batson of committing a foul on Hunte who scored the basket and one to give his side a three-point edge. From there Cavaliers found some rhythm and were able to take possession and score comfortably.
After a long two minutes and a half drought of not scoring, Lakers at 42-53 finally found the bucket when point guard Jimal Singh freed his arms for a three-point shot, seconds before that quarter ended.
With an eight-point advantage, Cavaliers’ aim was to ensure they played strong defence. Lakers, led by veteran player/coach Derrick Browne, showed some resistance to keep their hopes alive with help from Birkett along with center Andre Boadu with a surprising three-point shot. But Cavaliers proved to be the better team and were able to run away with the 12-point triumph in the decisive stanza.