Omar inspires resurgent Tarheels

Omar Clarke may be an under-rated hoops player in Cayman. But the West Bay native should gain respect for bringing playoff basketball back to a former dynasty.

Clarke has guided the Tarheels to the post-season of the 2011 national men’s basketball league. The division one team clinched the fourth and final seed last Thursday at the Arts and Recreation Centre at Camana Bay. The side beat the defending two-time champions Wolves 60-51 to complete the regular season 6-6.

Clarke had a stellar double-double showing with 11 points and 13 rebounds. He got help from veteran Philip Wilson (11 points off three three-pointers) and basketball prodigy Patrick Barnes (11 points and two steals). Those efforts allowed the Tarheels to make the playoffs for the first time in over three years.

It must be noted that the Wolves gave the victory to Tarheels in more ways than one. Wolves head coach Duran “Trini” Whittaker put his bench players on the court for tip-off and used them most of the game. The Wolves ended up down by 31 points at half-time before mounting a comeback. Much of that rally came from starters Dwight O’Garro (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Sandi Jiminez (12 points).

Coach Whittaker did say in passing that going into the match the plan was to have Tarheels make the playoffs instead of the V-Cool Watersports Silver Bullets and the Esso Blazers. The Bullets limped to an embarrassing sixth place finish at 5-7. Esso ended up fifth at 5-7 in spite of torching the Heat 95-54 last Thursday.

In spite of knowing before tip-off they were eliminated, the Blazers gave maximum effort. Esso were steadied by college players Shaad O’Garro (35 points, 20 rebounds, six steals) and Deandre Simpson (21 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists). The duo recently arrived on island after finishing another semester at school abroad. Both had help from Eric McField (11 points, eight rebounds, two steals) and David Taylor (11 points off three treys).

The Heat end their season 1-11 though Chad Leslie turned in another double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds). Arky Webster chipped in 15 points and 13 rebounds.