As the old adage goes: “It’s better late than never.”
After being forced into a late start due to Hurricane Dorian, the Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletics Association/Pizza Hut Tip-Off Basketball Classic is set to begin Tuesday, January 14 at the St. George’s Gymnasium and run to January 20.
“A better and stronger Grand Bahama” will be this year’s motto as teams in the senior boys’ and girls’ division return to the hardwood to compete in the island’s most popular basketball tournament.
The senior girls’ tournament tips off Wednesday, January 22-27.
Each division will feature seven teams split into two pools. Competing in Pool A on the boys’ side will be the returning champions in the Tabernacle Falcons, who hope to add their fourth-straight Tip-Off Classic title.
Joining the champions in Pool A will be the Sunland Stingers, St. George’s Jaguars and Jack Hayward Wildcats. Competing in Pool B are the Bishop Michael Eldon Warriors, Mary, Star of the Sea Crusaders, and Eight Mile Rock Blue Jays.
Playing in Pool A for the girls’ tournament will be the defending champion Lady Jaguars, along with Lady Falcons, Lady Blue Jays and Lady Warriors. Pool B will feature the Lady Crusaders, Lady Wildcats and Lady Stingers.
Kicking off the senior boys’ action will be the Warriors going one-on-one with the Jaguars at 4:00 p.m. Following that contest the Blue Jays will take on the Falcons at 5:00 p.m. and closing out the evening will be the Crusaders taking on the Stingers.
Wednesday’s action features the Blue Jays going up against the Warriors at 4:00 p.m., followed by the Stingers versus the Wildcats at 5:00 p.m. and the Falcons looking to score a win over the Jaguars at 6:00 p.m.
This coming Thursday the Crusaders face off with the Blue Jays at 4:00 p.m. The Wildcats and Jaguars renew their government school rivalry at 5:00 p.m. and the Stingers and Falcons are sure to have the Gymnasium in a frenzy when those programmes meet at 6:00 p.m.
On Friday the Warriors take on the Crusaders in the first game of the day, followed by the Wildcats taking on the Falcons and closing out day four will be the Jaguars and the Stingers in head-to-head action.
The quarterfinals tip-off at 11:00 a.m. this coming Saturday at 11:00 a.m. with the semifinals set to commence at 6:00 p.m. that evening. The senior boys’ championship game is booked to take place Monday, January 20 beginning at 6:00 p.m.
While this year marks the 26th year of the senior boys’ tournament existence, it will also mark the fourth year since the senior girls joined the fray of competition.
The GBSSAA feels this tournament should be a great means of bringing the community together.
“The Association is anticipating an excellent tournament this year,” Association secretary Charleen Hamilton expressed, “And is looking to the community of Grand Bahama for full support.
“It’s always nice to see our talents being displayed, especially among our youths and friendly rivalries are always something we look forward to for bragging rights at the end of the day.
“We are counting on everyone to come out in their numbers to support and cheer on their favorite team to victory. And do not forget that your best behavior is expected.
“In so saying, we are very pleased to have the presence of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, who will be out in their numbers to assist us with crowd control and first-class security.
“Special recognition must be made to this year’s major sponsor – Pizza Hut. Thank you so very much for accepting our request. And yes, we look forward to many, many, many, more title sponsorships from your organization.”
In that light, Fallon Symonette, who represents the Pizza Hut brand here on the island, said with all that the island had to endure since the month of September 2019, it was only fitting they do their part in assisting with the tournament.
“Pizza Hut Freeport is proud to be a major sponsor of this year’s tournament. The Pizza Hut Tip-Off Classic promises to be an exciting event between rival schools with top tier talent. We encourage the community to come out and support the boys’ and girls’ teams and we promise it will be a great time with great games and great pizza.
“We always want to be corporate citizens and we believe now more than ever we should step up and help the talent and youth on the island. There’s still hope and we want to be a part of that.”
Superintendent of Police Kenry Stubbs added that the RBPF’s role will be simple for both tournaments, and that is to maintain law and order on the grounds of the St. George’s Gymnasium.
He then had this message for parents and guardians who will be dropping their children off at the gymnasium.
“One concern I have is the fact that the kids that are dropped off to these games remain on the outside and it creates a problem. I just want to appeal to the parents, once you would have dropped your kids off you need to speak to them.
“Let them know to stay on the inside of the gym. Other than that (working) the games have been okay and we’re looking forward to assisting.”