The Tabernacle Falcons traversed into hostile territory and came away with gold in hand.
Now, for a record seventh time, the Falcons became Hugh Campbell Basketball Tournament champions.
The eventual champs survived a late and frantic comeback from the C. I. Gibson Rattlers, to pull away with a 58-52 triumph.
Franco Miller Jr., turned in his best game of the tournament to lead the charge for the Falcons. The game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) poured in a game high 27 points along with four rebounds. He got help from teammates Regis Cooper and Desmond Butler, who provided 10 points each in the winning effort.
After a hard fought victory, the Falcons returned home, to Grand Bahama, to screaming cheers from the entire Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy institution.
Head coach Kevin Clarke and assistant coach Quincy Gray both came off the Bahamasair vessel hoisting the coveted championship trophy over their heads.
It’s Clarke’s first Hugh Campbell championship as a head coach. He went on to describe the win as a “tough road,” but it was one he knew his boys could handle.
“The boys were focused, played hard throughout all the adverse moments of the tournament and then we were able to come out with the victory,” Clarke said.
The overall effort he got out of the team, during the tournament was something special he had to highlight.
Although Miller had the huge scoring night, he credited point guard Alfredo Brown’s clutch moment in the game.
“We have a bunch of players that play with heart and play with intensity. Alfredo has hit big shots for us all year and you saw it last night (Monday) in the championship game, with a big three-pointer to give us some momentum down the stretch.”
The three-pointer Clarke mentioned came midway through the fourth quarter, to give the Falcons a seven-point lead.
It was not the ideal shooting night for the Falcons, but Clarke simply told his team to keep shooting with confidence.
“We knew eventually the jump shots would fall. I just told them to be confident shooting the ball and they did. In the fourth quarter a couple fell and that was the difference in the game.”
This win ended a six-year Hugh Campbell championship drought for the Falcons.
Miller believed he and his teammates left it all on the floor of the Kendal G. L. Issacs Gymnasium.
While wanting to win the championship for their fellow Falcons and Grand Bahama, Miller noted that the team wanted the win badly for Clarke.
“It feels great to win. We really wanted to do it for our coach, mostly, because the last time he made it to the Hugh Campbell Championship he lost. So we really wanted to go out there and do it for him.”
Being greeted by the entire school at the Grand Bahama Domestic Terminal was a surprise to say the least for Miller and the team, but it was something they enjoyed coming home to.
As team captain of the Falcons, Butler relished in the victory along with his teammates. However, the Falcons must regain focus, as the same teams they faced in the recently held tournament will be in Grand Bahama this week for the High School Basketball Nationals.
The Nationals tip-off on March 2 at the St. Georges and Jack Hayward Gymnasiums.
Now it was Butler’s time to remind his team they have one more item on the “To Do List.”
“Just tell my guys this isn’t it. We have another tournament to go into and pull through again.”
The Falcons now have four major championship wins under their belt for the season. They also won the self-titled Thanksgiving Classic back November, the Tip-Off Classic Championship in January and the Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletic Association Obie Wilchocmbe/Derek Nesbitt championship.
Now the Falcons hope to use that momentum to carry them through this week.
Published Wednesday, March 1, 2017