The recent Under-19 basketball
competition showcased a lot of aspiring female talent. Out of all the people
involved in this year’s league, arguably the happiest is Redver Ebanks.
The national junior women’s
basketball coach states the competitiveness of the Appleby U19 Basketball
League was encouraging.
“The level of play was pretty
high,” Ebanks said. “For example the Monarchs started out shaky (the side did
not win a single match). But Christina McLean stepped up, became a leader and
nearly took them to the finals. We also saw a lot of improvement from players
like the Lynx’s Hannah Parchment, who averaged 16 points a game. She can stand
on her own two feet so to speak which is great.”
Ebanks’ positive outlook is
somewhat surprising considering his team lost out on the championship. The head
coach of the Comets would see his side lose to eventual champions the Sparks
80-70 at the Arts and Recreation Centre at Camana Bay. Leading the Sparks was Finals
Most Valuable Player La-Torae Nixon (32 points, 20 rebounds, seven steals),
Courtisha Ebanks (22 points, eight rebounds, four steals) and Taylor Reid (12
points and 16 rebounds).
The Comets did have some offensive
firepower of their own though. Shana Linwood-McLaughlin had 20 points, seven
rebounds and four steals. Felecia Connor had 17 points and eight rebounds,
Chloe Powery posted 17 points, six rebounds and Abigail Stoddard had 10 points
and five rebounds. All of that production gives some solace to Ebanks.
“It was an evenly-matched game that
boiled down to fouls at the end. Some of our supporting players stepped up big.
Shana for example did exceptionally well for us. On the whole though we didn’t
execute all of the stuff we practiced and the best team won.
“La-Torae’s numbers don’t surprise
me. The game-plan was to limit her but she ended up getting her average. We
didn’t do a good job of containing Courtisha either as she went above her
season average and Taylor boosted her club too.”
One of the main reasons Ebanks is
pleased with the U19 talent is due to the arrival of the national women’s
league (which saw its first games last Sunday). The West Bay native, who was
the national coach for women’s basketball in Cayman, is head coach of the Women
of Valour All Stars. He states the All Stars, who are next in action this
Wednesday 2 February against the Silver Bullets at 6pm at Camana Bay, will
benefit from the progress of the younger players.
“Even though my team lost, the
Women of Valour still won. Most of the girls in the league are in my programme.
Anyway you look at it it’s a win for that side. My goal is to develop girls in
basketball and me stepping in to coach a team doesn’t change anything.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that
most of the girls are 13 years-old. They still got about five years left to
play in the U19 league. If they are the top performers now, imagine what they
will be like in four years time. It will be exciting to watch.”