The Esso Blazers and Bodden Town were one step away from youth basketball kudos. Instead they can only watch as the Wolves chase their second straight championship this week.
Esso and BT recently lost in the Appleby Under-19 Basketball League boys division playoffs. At the Sir Vassell Johnson Hall at the University College of the Cayman Islands, the Wolves would beat the Blazers 87-52 while the Grand Pavilion Shockwaves downed BT 45-43.
The resounding sentiment is that 2010 champions Wolves will repeat by beating the Shockwaves this Saturday, 17 December, at UCCI at 6pm. Blazers forward Justin Nalty, 15, states that game boils down to one player.
“They have a chance to win everything, just because of Peter Grant,” Nalty said. “He makes that team move. Without him on that team they would not have gone this far.”
BT forward Travis Barnes, 17, also favours the Wolves but does not count out the Shockwaves.
“(As far as the winner this year goes) it’ll probably be Wolves,” Barnes said. “Personally I’m going to roll with the under-dogs and say Shockwaves (will win).”
Both young men, who were born and raised in Cayman, had good showings. Nalty, from George Town, posted 12 points, nine rebounds and four steals. He had help from team-mates Brad Galbraith (15 points, five rebounds, two steals) and Oscar Rivers (13 points, 16 rebounds and five steals). Barnes, from Bodden Town, had 20 points while team-mates Alfredo Cardosa chipped in eight points and Christopher Collins had seven points.
The youngsters were overshadowed by a trio of talents. The Wolves triple threat consisted of Most Valuable Player favourite Peter Grant (36 points, eight assists, six steals, six rebounds), David Powery (24 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, four steals) and Rueben Barnes (nine points, three rebounds). Shockwaves featured MVP candidate Phillip Webb (eight blocks, 15 points, 25 rebounds, including the game-ending defensive rebound), Rashaad Powery-Saunds (10 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks) and Dominic Martucci (eight points, eight steals, four assists).
Understandably Nalty and Barnes were not pleased with their performances.
“The difference in our game was free-throws,” Nalty said. “We missed 75 per cent of them. If we had made them it would have been a better game. We would have had a chance.”
“We got cheated,” Barnes said. “Phillip got all the calls and we got none. We could have done better, it was my last match (of the season).”
Nalty is the brother of track star Ashleigh Nalty, who also played U19 basketball in the past. Though he is relatively new to the sport, as he also competes in athletics, Nalty realizes the season was a good one for Esso.
“This is my first U19 season and first year of basketball, after playing with the Jets in the 2011 U16 league. I plan to keep going. We did good, we made the playoffs. I’m impressed with how well we worked with each other.”
Barnes meanwhile is in his second U19 season and did one year of U16 basketball. He states the focus is on 2012.
“We could of been champions but it was only our second year together. Next year we’re coming back, to win.”