Flames and Valour are blazing

Women’s basketball in the Cayman Islands is set to get going again. Two of the first teams in action are the Home Gas Flames and the Women of Valour All Stars.

Both hit the indoor court at the The Arts and Recreation Centre in Camana Bay this Sunday 30 January. At 5pm the All Stars take their shot at rookie club the Lady Wolves. Home Gas meanwhile faces the Silver Bullets at 7pm. The matches are part of the 2011 Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association National Women’s Basketball League. The competition has been ongoing for over a decade and is slated to run until late March/early April.

Home Gas head coach/player Wendy Manzanares is familiar with the competition having been involved for a number of years. Manzanares, who just coached the Sparks to the U16 and U19 girls championship, states she is excited about this year’s competition.

“I will be part of the Home Gas Flames again for the women’s league and this year should be exciting,” Manzanares said. “A lot of players switched teams and we now have five sides instead of the usual four. The league won’t see a winner from a far ways off like in the past. Personally I’m very excited to see the ladies get more confidence.

“I think the talent we saw in the U19 event will trickle out into the women’s league with players like Hannah Parchment (the U19 Most Improved Player of the Year) being one of many who has really stepped up. It will be exciting.”

Redver Ebanks is head coach of the All Stars and has a similar view of the upcoming competition. The national coach for girls basketball in Cayman states the women’s league has a valuable place in the sport.

“It’s always good to know that the development process is there and the juniors can learn from the seniors,” Ebanks said. “Players such as Chloe Powery really stood out in the U19 league. Now you can see how good they really are when they play against the women. It should be wonderful. In the next five years, if they progress, they can lead the women’s national team.”

Manzanares and her Flames will be aiming to end the Dominos Lady Heels dynasty. Winners of four national championships in six years, the Lady Heels secured their latest title last March. Though the team is drastically different from last year, Manzanares states Home Gas can be in contention.

“It will be a really good team. Granted we only have five girls coming back and everyone else is new. But La-Torae Nixon (arguably Cayman’s best female youth player) is on the team along with her mum Latasha Nixon and aunt Sue Nixon.”

Manzanares will not be the only one relying on youth talent. Ebanks states he will feature solely U19 girls.

“The Women of Valour is essentially a national youth team. All of the girls on the team will be from the U19 league. This year will be a lot more competitive. We lost some key players to the Lady Wolves and the Flames. In our program we keep the girls until they’re 19 before we funnel them out across the league. So basically we lost players due to age.

“Last year we were sponsored by Welly’s Cool Spot. This year we have no sponsorship so we’ve been having to do fund-raisers. But all in all the league will be very competitive and the games should be awesome to watch.”

Matches for the league take place Thursday and Sunday evenings at Camana Bay. For a complete match schedule log on to www.caymanbasketball.org.