Esso and Monarchs rule

The local youth basketball playoffs are over and two teams now stand tall above the rest.

Boys' finals

The boys’ finals saw plenty of athletic moves.
Photo: Matthew Yates

The Esso Blazers captured the Boys League crown with a thrilling 77-75 over-time win over Silver Bullets.

In the Girls League Monarchs beat Lynx 43-38 for the championship.

All four teams play in the Cayman Islands Basketball Association U19 Basketball League.

With those victories both clubs won their respective leagues outright as they finished first at the end of the regular season.

The finals for both leagues were played last Saturday at the Digicel Court off Eastern Avenue.

Both games had a frenetic pace and took on the tense atmosphere typical of all championship games.

Dwight O’Garro and Ishmael Perez were the two main referees for both games on the night.

The girls title game was the first of the evening tipping off at 6pm and both clubs came into the match riding high off their semi-final performances.

Monarchs beat the bottom-ranked Comets in their semi-final 47-45. Christina McLean led the way for the Monarchs with 14 points and 10 steals. Sister Christsania McLean led all players in rebounds with an amazing 27 boards.

Meanwhile the second-place Lynx beat the third-ranked Sparks 45-27. Catherine Ebanks made all the difference for the Lynx in that game with 17 points and seven steals.

Saturday’s final would see much of the same as the stars for both teams stepped up big.

Throughout the night the Monarchs strategy was to keep the tempo of the game fast and hoist up plenty of shots.

Though the squad would not do well from the charity stripe (1-6 from the free throw line) or hit from beyond the arch the side looked to be in control for much of the game.

As she has been throughout the season Christsania McLean was the catalyst of the offense, wiping the glass on the defensive end often, showing good ball-handling skills and stepping up to take big shots when her team needed them most.

The result would be McLean had a monster game for the Monarchs. Her double-double performance on the night would see her grab 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Yet her team-mates would not leave it all on her shoulders. Sister Christina McLean and team-mate Letanya Thompson played notable supporting roles.

Christina would chip in 10 points and three steals while Thompson had 11 points and nine rebounds.

However the team made more than its fair share of mistakes. The team gave too many easy points away to the Lynx as evidenced by their 29 foul shots. If the team had made more than 11 of those the game would have been much different.

From there the rebounding could have been better. Though the team did nab 17 offensive and 23 defensive rebounds they gave up 19 and 25 rebounds respectively.

As a result the Lynx were never far out of the game and stayed with the Monarchs the whole way. In fact the Lynx were up by two at half-time. Though they scored only eight in the third quarter they rallied back to drop 18 points in the final quarter.

Leading the charge for the Lynx was acclaimed scorer Catherine Ebanks. She proved why she was the league’s leading scorer dropping 21 points, eight rebounds and five steals.

Lexie Solomon was a notable contributor for the green warriors with 10 points and five rebounds.

Amber Watson and Annique Holness gave a solid presence on the boards with 14 and eight rebounds respectively. However their lack of scoring (just four points between them) would be huge.

The squad stayed in the game a number of ways. The side had a slight edge in most major categories from rebounding (44-40) to assists (8-5).

However the Lynx shined on the defensive end, causing 27 turnovers while nabbing 17 steals and making three blocks.

On the other hand their 25 turnovers would hamper their efforts and put the game out of reach.

The boys final went ahead at 8pm and featured two squads primed for another quality playoff game.

In their semi-final match Blazers beat fourth-ranked team Redemption 60-50. Michael Daley led the way with 15 points while Brandon Glasgow had a big game with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Meanwhile the Silver Bullets clobbered second-ranked Tarheels 75-54. Deandre Simpson had a great game scoring 26 points to go with 23 rebounds. Raheim Robinson had 19 points as well.

In the finals the Blazers would centre their offense on dominant big men Stephen Shaw and Brandon Glasgow.

Esso did their best to keep the tempo slow and run a half-court offense. Esso’s game plan was for the ball to work its way around the wing before being dumped inside to Shaw who could not be stopped by the Silver Bullets defense.

The plan reaped major dividends. Shaw would have a monster game with 29 points, 24 rebounds and four steals.

Glasgow would step up in a big way once again. The young man would have an outstanding triple-double performance with 21 points, 16 rebounds and 10 steals.

If there was a MVP award for the match Glasgow would have surely won it. Glasgow hustled all game long and made big shots throughout.

Unheralded talent Patrick Barnes, brother of stand-out local player Phillip Barnes, had an excellent game as well.

Patrick would post 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. The young guard showed good ball-handling skills and could easily be as good if not better than his brother.

On the other hand Silver Bullets would counter with three big performers of their own.

Deandre Simpson, arguably the league’s best player, had 14 points and led all players with 25 rebounds. Simpson was a force in the paint and skied high for every loose ball he could get his hands on.

Kwei General also had a great game. He would finish with 23 points and 15 rebounds. General showed he had the makings of a solid point guard on the night and his ability to drive to the basket caused plenty of problems for Esso.

Raheim Robinson had another great playoff outing posting 23 points of his own to go with six steals.

The game would be a tight affair. The stats show both teams attacked the glass and caused much havoc on defense.

Blazers would grab 54 rebounds and 24 steals while committing 25 turnovers. Meanwhile Silver Bullets had 56 rebounds, 12 steals, seven blocks and committed 38 turnovers.

Throughout the game both teams would go on runs and get clutch plays but neither would go away.

Silver Bullets were actually the frontrunners in the first half, posting 36 points to 19 from Esso.

But the second half would be a different story as Esso had 14 points in the third quarter before orchestrating a stunning rally in the fourth quarter dropping 30 points.

However both teams would be tied at the end of regulation and force overtime. The overtime session would be a nail-biting affair as both clubs went back and forth.

In the end Esso would make the most out of their visits to the charity stripe, knocking home key free throws to get the slight edge on Silver Bullets 14-12 to emerge the winners.

For the complete stats for the youth basketball league and all local basketball in Cayman log on to www.caymanbasketball.org.

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