The Home Gas Flames want to dominate women’s basketball for another year.
Cayman’s reigning two-time national champions are already talking about a three-peat. With Home Gas having usurped the previous dynasty in the Dominos Lady Heels, players like La-Torae Nixon are focused on another golden run in 2013.
“As for a three-peat, I’m not sure as I hope the team can do it again,” Nixon said. “But we believe in ourselves and we can do what we put our heads to and accomplish goals.”
The Flames landed a second consecutive national title this month by sweeping the Lady Heels in the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2012 women’s league. Home Gas won game one 66-52 before closing out Dominos 54-53 in game two at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre.
Overseeing the team’s success was rookie head coach Bruce Reynolds, 32. He states a three-peat will rest on how recruiting works out in the offseason.
“They wanted to do it and they did it,” Reynolds said. “They are a determined group. If they stick together, they can win again. Structure will be different next year as I want to get more of a supporting cast at the different positions.
“We don’t have the rotation I’d like. We need taller players in the paint and to have more of a supporting cast. With the current structure, it made my coaching job more difficult.
“I’m hoping for another title next season. We’ll soon start going again and I’m not sure who is coming back. Anyone I get my hands on, I’ll work with.”
Nixon, 15, was the star of the finals, capping off what figures to be another Most Valuable Player campaign by averaging 25.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, four steals and 4.5 blocks. She also had the series-clinching free-throw.
Sade Wood was another key player for Home Gas with 27 points (including three three-pointers), 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals in game one. The Flames also got production from Gemma Graelis, who averaged 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Nixon, a Wesleyan Christian Academy grade nine student, is quick to point out other role players stepped up.
“With Gemma, I love her Euro step and the energy she brought to bring the team up. She really tried her best.
“Ashleigh Reid also stepped up. From the season started, she was afraid to rebound and now she’s boxing out Dionne Anglin and the other Dominos girls. Sabrina Dennis was a big contributor. She went out there and hustled, unfortunately she bruised her ankle in the playoffs.
“Meredith Whitney can shoot but unfortunately she left the Island after the first round. She went on break from school at St. Matthew’s University and she is back now.”
Reynolds is the second straight rookie head coach to guide Home Gas to victory after West Bay native Ovaine Monteith pulled off the feat last season. Reynolds states his rookie magic comes from a desire to teach young people.
“It’s about bettering them, making them better and teaching them to play hard. My son, Cameron Reynolds, is up and coming and with La-Torae and the other girls I like to teach. It’s not about me, it’s about the kids and developing them. La-Torae and some of the other girls are youngsters.
“It feels good to be on top. I have a daughter, Kaya and I tell her along with Cameron that the sky’s the limit. Cameron wants to make the National Basketball Association and I have to be a role model in general.”
Home Gas came out on top in a league with three other teams in Island Heritage Silver Mist, Lady Wolves and Welly’s Cool Spot. The basketball championship is their second sports title this month, after a 10th co-ed softball triumph. Reynolds is quick to credit Home Gas for their support.
“Home Gas is encouraged by the team and the way it is structured. They always support teams once they are structured properly and its important as sponsors they continue that. It’s good for local sports as they don’t hesitate to support something good.
“I also want to say I appreciate the hard work of Matthew Yates, who provides the publicity teams count on. By him taking the time to highlight players, it makes things happen.”