Butcher may leave the pack

Gary ‘Butcher’ McLaughlin has put
roughly 10 years into the sport of basketball in Cayman. Now after reaching the
pinnacle once again he’s thinking of hanging up his sneakers for good.

“I’m not sure how long I can play,”
McLaughlin said. “The younger players coming up look real promising. I’ve had a
lot of bumps and bruises along the way. They have taken a toll on me. Then
again a lot of youngsters are coming up that need guidance. So for now I’ll be
the pilot for them.”

McLaughlin, 31, won his second
consecutive national championship last weekend in the Sir Vassell Johnson Hall
at the University College of the Cayman Islands. His Wolves team beat the
Dominos Warriors 82-73 in game four of the best-of-five series. With the
victory the Wolves clinched the finals three games to one.

Among McLaughlin’s supporting cast
was Vanrick Felix (17 points, five steals) and Dwight O’Garro (15 points and 10
rebounds). One of basketball’s star young prodigies Brandon Glasgow, 17, had a
quiet series with 10 points in three games.

Dominos countered with Jerome
Narcisse (24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists), Collin Anglin (19 points,
six rebounds and four steals) and Jasen Campbell (10 points and five rebounds).

Meanwhile McLaughlin states being a
repeat champion feels fantastic.

“It’s just a great feeling. It’s
something I dreamed to do from the start. Now I can say I matched my favourite
player Michael Jordan as we accomplished consecutive basketball titles. I
couldn’t ask for a better feeling.”

In the closeout game McLaughlin was
solid with a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds. For his efforts the
starting forward claimed the Finals MVP averaging 21 points and six rebounds in
the series. Interestingly it is McLaughlin’s second straight Finals MVP honour
as he won last year’s trophy by averaging 27 points and 10 rebounds against the
Esso Blazers.

The father of promising young track
star Mikayla McLaughlin states the trophies are added spoils of winning.
“Winning the MVP trophy again makes it feel even more special. Without the core
of players around me it wouldn’t be possible. It’s just an honour to hold those
trophies.”

The Windsor Park native is one of a
handful of players to be with the Wolves since their inception four years ago.
Alongside Andres Kirchman and Timmy Myles, McLaughlin formed the nucleus of a
team coached by Duran ‘Trini’ Whittaker. Yet McLaughlin had his doubts about
playing this season. Whittaker, who won his second straight Coach of the Year
honour this year, stated he had to coax the top scorer to play this season.

“I had to beg Butcher to play,”
Whittaker said. “He didn’t want to play but I had to talk him into it because I
knew we could do it again. I knew him from primary school right on up and he’s
truly a superstar in my eyes.

“Butcher is a natural talent. He
don’t have to pick up a ball for a year and he could pick up a ball one day and
play to a high level. He’s unstoppable near the basket, he has a shooter’s
touch and he has a quick first step. In the finals he stepped up for us and was
the first one in the gym putting in work to make us excel. He led by example,
he worked hard and to me proved he’s the best player on the island.”

Ultimately McLaughlin has his mind on
playing next year. Though he’s not sure what will happen after that he sounds
confident that a three-peat is possible.

“Last season was hard, this season
was harder and next season will be the same. I hope we can do it again next
season. We’re pretty much the smallest team in the league yet I don’t see any
match-up as a threat. We’ve never been afraid of any team. We play hard and
fight to the last whistle. Whatever the result is we stand by that. It doesn’t
faze us, we’ll take down anyone at anytime.”

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