La-Torae Nixon and Peter Grant are Cayman’s two star basketball prodigies. Recently they were awarded for their efforts.
The pair walked away with a number of trophies at the Appleby Under-19 Basketball League awards ceremony. Both would be named regular season Most Valuable Player as their teams advanced to the finals.
Newly elected Cayman Islands Basketball Association Joel Jefferson was on hand for the presentations. He took over this month from past president Bryan Hunter. Jefferson states both teenagers are indicative of the talent currently in the sport.
“The season went just fine,” Jefferson said. “I haven’t seen an U19 game in a few years but from the finals I can see the talent has grown. The future looks bright for U19 girls and boys basketball.
“Again I haven’t seen this league play in a few years but I’m impressed with the physical talent of La-Torae. It’s just incredible that she’s not even 16 yet. She is just amazing and it’s really impressive what she has done.”
Nixon, 14, won the MVP honours as she was the league’s leading scorer (33.8ppg), rebounder (24.3rpg) and free throw shooter (51.9 per cent) and finished third in assists with 22 dimes. To no surprise then she won trophies for being scoring and rebounding champion as well as the league’s best defensive player (she had 57 steals and 49 blocks).
However Nixon would fall short of a repeat championship to the Monarchs. The red team would see a number of players honoured this year including April Ebanks, who was the Most Improved Player by averaging 12 points and 19 rebounds per game (as opposed to nine points and 13 boards per contest in 2010). Ebanks was also named Finals MVP as she produced an epic double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Guiesha Smith (7.0 points per game and 10 rebounds per game) would be named Rookie of the Year.
Jefferson states Ebanks was the difference for her team.
“April understands the game and put together a quality game. She played really well. I was impressed with the girls’ final I got to tell you.
“The Monarchs’ win shows the ball is round and anyone can win on any given night. It all comes down to team-work and based on how they played they deserved to win.”
Grant, 16, would hit no stumbling blocks. His Wolves would win the regular season crown plus their second straight U19 title. In addition to regular season and Finals MVP awards, he was top scorer and would be named scoring champion (averaging 31.5 points), he was the top passer and named the assists champion (averaging 4.9 assists) and receive Best Defensive Player props for having 84 steals, most in the league.
Boys finalist the Grand Pavilion Shockwaves would see some players earn trophies. Phillip Webb was named rebounding champion as the league’s top rebounder with 260 boards. Webb was also named Most Improved Player for averaging 26 rebounds and 17 points per contest (compared to 10ppg and 10rpg in 2010). Dominic Martucci (15ppg, 4rpg and three assists per game) was named Rookie of the Year.