One can’t deny the impact that the HOYTES Labor Day Classic has had over youth basketball over the years.
The Bahamian flavored Amateur Athletic Union tournament has a way of drawing some of the best basketball out of teams that travel from Abaco, Bimini, New Providence when they go up against what Grand Bahama has to offer, competitively.
Much thanks to the consistent help of FOCOL, PharmaChem Technololgies and the Ministry of Tourism, the tournament continues to allow young athletes to remain active over the holiday.
But this year’s June 1-4 held event was made even more special with telecommunication provider, BTC hopping on board as the title sponsor.
The round-robin styled Classic featured tons of games and a lot of highlights but in the end there could be only one champion in the various divisions.
Sunday afternoon was the climax of the tournament that featured three championship clashes in the Boys’ 15-16, Open Girls and Boys’ 17-18 Divisions.
The Reach-Out Saints defeated Agape out of Abaco to become the 15-16 champions.
Later on in the day, the HOYTES girls took on Greater Heights in the open girls’ championship tilt. It was a close one but HOYTES overcame the opposition 26-22 and were crowned champions. Joanna Moncur was top player for HOYTES and named the Most Valuable Player.
Head coach Quincy Gray was proud of the way his girls played the entire tournament and expressed that the girls are on the right track toward playing a lot better in the future.
“We work with these girls day in and day out on Saturdays,” he voiced, “The tournament was good for them. They got to see different competition from off the islands so overall I’m happy and satisfied. We got to go back to the drawing board and work on some things because there were still some things I saw during the tournament that I wasn’t too pleased with. But HOYTES will be back and be more improved in the future.”
Pelican Bay Improvement Basketball and the Reach Out Saints played some tough opponents in their respective semifinal clashes on Sunday before they eventually faced off in the boys’ 17-18 championship.
Nonetheless the boys’ clash came down to whom would have the momentum and the legs to pace themselves to victory. The Saints controlled the contest for the most part led 24-19 at the end of the third quarter.
A late surge from Improvement Basketball, however, helped the Pelican Bay club to tie the game at 24 apiece with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter. The late wave of momentum carried Improvement Basketball to the 17-18 championship with a 35-24 victory. Ahmad Harvey was named the Most Valuable Player.
A relatively new crew, Improvement Basketball was spear headed by coach Nathaniel Newbold. The team was made up of athletes who Newbold said he watched grow into the players they are today. He furthered that the club was a goal of his and wanted to foster a program that helps young athletes reach their full potential.
“I lived away for a while and when I came back the first thing I wanted to do was make an AAU team. And they were some of the kids I knew growing up so I just hit them up and asked if they wanted to join my team and play in the HOYTES tournament.
“Pelican Bay, which is a great sponsor, Improvement Basketball is just trying to help the young men stay out of trouble and give them something to do. Just like with what Dudley Seide is trying to do with Reach Out I’m just trying to help him along and let him know he’s not the only one here and he has back- up.”
The champions crowned on Saturday included: Boys’ 5-6 HOYTES, 7-8 Bimini, 9-10 Bimini, 11-12 Showtime Basketball (Nassau), 13-14 Showtime Basketball, and Girls’ 11-12 Showtime Basketball.
HOYTES founder Gladstone “Moon” McPhee voiced the tournament was another successful endeavor and was impressed by the amount of players and level of play displayed all weekend. He thanked all the sponsors involved as well as the media. He also expressed next year, with the help of BTC, he is hopeful they can get two gymnasiums to accommodate the amount of games played.