After falling behind in their best-of-three series with the Sunland Stingers, the Tabernacle Falcons managed to even the odds (1-1) this past Wednesday evening.
The Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletic Association: Derek Nesbitt/Obie Wilchcombe High School Basketball League’s senior boys’ semifinals continued at the Jack Hayward Gymnasium, as the defending champion Falcons took down the Stingers 62-51.
The Falcons were led by guard Ethan Munroe, and forwards Joshua Dames and Denardo Adderley. The trio combined for 45 points (15 points each) in the series tying game. The Stingers’ forward Rolante Knowles, however, turned in a game-high effort of 20 points in the loss.
Game three takes place tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Jack Hayward Gymnasium.
The champs appeared focused from the opening tip. The Falcons held a 12-7 lead at the end of the the first quarter sparked by the hot shooting of Munroe who totaled eight points in the opening stanza.
While the Falcons eventually built a 17-12 lead in the second the Stingers managed to tie the game at 17 apiece halfway through. In the closing minutes of the second the Falcons’ full court press allowed them to build a 28-20 edge to lead at halftime.
The Falcons would lead by 12 points with five minutes to go in the third quarter, powered by some strong play from Adderley off the bench. The lead stood at 34-22 in favor of the Falcons at that point.
The Stingers, led by Knowles in that quarter attempted to mount a comeback and made it a single-digit deficit, with under three minutes to go in the third. The score stood at 39-33 for the Falcons with 2:17 left.
Still, Tabby went into the fourth with a 43-33 lead.
Although a Stingers three made it a 43-36 game the Falcons again crept out to a double-digit lead. The score stood at 50-36 with 5:47 left to tick away in the fourth.
Later, faced with a 56-40 deficit with under 2:30 remaining the Stingers slowly chipped away at the deficit. The Stingers later trailed 56-45 before a three-pointer by Knowles found the bottom of the net to make it a 56-48 game in favor of Tabby. Knowles was also fouled on that shot and the subsequent free throw made it a 56-49 game with 2:04 remaining.
Moments later, Romad Dean buried a cold-blooded three-pointer with 1:24 left in the fourth to balloon the Falcons’ advantage to a 10-point lead, 59-49.
A pair of free throws by the Stingers made it a 59-51 game.
With 20.3 seconds left, a scary moment transpired as Dean hit the deck hard following a lay-up attempt in the closing seconds.
He was later helped off the floor and the Falcons closed the game out to force tonight’s game three.
As for the Jaguars, they completed their 2-0 sweep of the Jack Hayward Wildcats to punch their ticket to the GBSSAA senior boys’ championship.
The former national champions ousted the Wildcats 50-38 behind 17 points from Samuel ‘Sammy’ Pinder. Darius Cooper led the Wildcats with 13 points.
The number one seeded Jaguars are back in the limelight after being absent from last year’s championship picture. Coach Darrell Sears embraced being the number one ranked team record-wise in the regular season but acknowledged there is still work to be done to complete the mission.
“I’ve told my boys the regular season, to us, is very important because it really shows who’s the best team in Grand Bahama,” he expressed, “Us coming out as the pennant winners is very pleasing to us. We get so caught up in the pre-season tournaments we kind of look past the regular season and how important it is. When we set up our training schedule we set it up to peak at this time so that we are ready for the regular season because that, to me, is more important.”
The Jaguars boast a scary mix of length and athleticism that plays into their “calling card” of team defense. At this stage it has been tough on teams to deal and Sears is pleased that it has them in the position they want to be in.
“We were able to hold teams, in most cases, under 40 and 50 points. Team defense is what has taken us to the championship and we’re happy to be in this position,” he concluded.
The GBSSAA senior boys championship is expected to tip-off next week with a date to be announced following game three Friday evening. The Jaguars will await the winner of that pivotal game three between the Stingers and Falcons.