Team Charterland’s continued dominance seems tied to their rival: the Butterfield Shockwaves.
While local basketball turns its attention to national team training, talk still rests on the division two rivalry in the Cayman Islands Basketball Association national men’s league.
Charterland sharp shooter Jeremy Strickland, 27, states the sides will be doing battle for years to come.
“It feels good and I’m glad to win,” Strickland said. “I played OK from game to game. The ball bounced out for me from time to time. Game three of the finals was not my best game but I play with a lot of great guys. There’s always some one to pick up the slack.
“The Shockwaves are much improved from the beginning of the year. They trust each other, they’re full of young, good talent that can be a threat in the future. As for us, as far as moving up goes, we’re too old for division one.”
Strickland, a financial analyst, has been on Grand Cayman six years, with his team producing four championship seasons. The last two came as Charterland, at Butterfield’s expense, with the others under the Digicel Demons name.
Charterland’s success this year included an 9-0 regular season campaign, a first-round playoff sweep of the Rock Hole Fire Ants and a 2-1 series win over the Shockwaves in the finals. Butterfield, who were second in the regular season at 5-4, gave Charterland a scare with a 75-73 victory in game one. Charterland would rebound to win game two 75-40 and game three 73-67 at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre.
Nathan Smith had the series-clinching free throws for his second triumph on the squad. He is pleased to be part of the winning side in the Butterfield-Charterland rivalry.
“It never gets old,” Smith said. “This is only my second year on Island and on the team. It’s nice to be part of a team with a legacy, kind of like the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers.”
On the statistics sheet, Smith had a solid double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds in game three. Will Koutney followed suit with 10 points and 14 rebounds and Strickland added 11 points and four assists.
Koutney, who was third in scoring and rebounding with 16.1 points and 13.2 rebounds per game, states it was great playing on a veteran team.
“I was the “new guy” on the squad, but I had been playing with a few of the guys, Nate, Scott Murray and Jeremy, since arriving on island,” Koutney said. “It felt like a natural fit and team chemistry was in place from the start.
“I was impressed with how the Shockwaves picked up their game for the playoffs. It seemed like they picked up the pace on offence, especially for game one and they really had us figured out for a bit. I never doubted that we’d pull through with our resilient veterans though.”
Scott Murray was the top scorer with 21 points off two three-pointers, six assists and five steals in the series finale. During the season, he averaged 3.6 assists, tops in the league. Murray states his focus is on a third straight title in 2013.
“It’s always exciting to win a championship, especially when you can share it with such a great group of guys,” Murray said. “We always knew we couldn’t take them for granted. They have a very young explosive team and I feel they’re going to be even tougher next year.
“It’s obvious that players like Peter Grant and Darryl Paddyfoot are going to be a dominant force in the league for years to come. It’s nice that our veteran team will have some time off to rest and heal. I’m looking forward to next season and I just hope that we can keep the old squad together for a chance at a three-peat.”
In the finale, Butterfield had good performances from Peter Grant (21 points off two treys, eight rebounds), Darryl Paddyfoot (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Phillip Webb (11 points, 18 rebounds).
Shockwaves team captain Olujimi La Pierre, 23, states those numbers are proof his side can be a threat going forward.
“It was a good season with no complaints,” La Pierre said. “We’re right there with Charterland, they look forward to playing us. We are there, right there, we just came together a little too late. Time was a big role with us and we were restricted with our training.”
Both sides figure to renew their rivalry next February, when the 2013 season starts. The clubs are heavy favourites to fight for regular season glory and tussle again in the finals. More than likely, the winner will have a choice whether or not to move up as the basketball association has not made it mandatory for teams to be promoted and relegated.
For Shockwaves coach Jonathan Powery, 22, getting past Charterland is one of many objectives for the club.
“Everyone likes to be on top,” Powery said. “They didn’t want to go up. It’s not a pain, at the end of the day we built a team that’s good enough to beat them. Hats off to them, they played their A game and they’re a challenge we look forward to every year. It’s very exciting.
“When we get our chance to win, we won’t stay in division two. We want to go up to division one. Looking back at guys like Dominic Martucci and Phillip, they only have a year of real basketball competition. Working with those guys is really great. To say this was the most talented team would take away from stars like Patrick Barnes, Cleve Stewart and Diego Smith.
“A lot of talented players have come through. I believed 100 per cent this was the team to win it all this year. We added Nigel Ebanks from Future Sports Club and he was a big help. We added Paddyfoot from the Personnel 2000 Warriors. We were lacking a dominant big man and he added that to the team.
“Overall, it was a great time, seeing the guys out there on the court. We were very privileged to have a sponsor this year in Butterfield, it was really good.”
On the flip side, Charterland, a company featuring chartered surveyors and property consultants, has no intentions of slowing down on the court. Charterland Partner and former player Stewart Connelly states the goal is more success.
“We are extremely proud to be sponsoring a two-time champion team,” Connelly said. “The partners of the firm have always strived to give back to the community as much as possible. We look forward to sponsoring the Charterland basketball team for a long time and hopefully, one day assisting with either league sponsorship or helping the association develop an elite training squad to assist Caymanian youth players with the opportunity of playing college basketball under scholarship.
“A three-peat would be fantastic, it was something that we couldn’t accomplish as Digicel, so doing it being sponsored by Charterland would be special. I know the Shockwaves are going to try their hardest, as are all the teams in the league, to de-throne us, however, if we can keep the nucleus of the team together, we are confident of winning it all again.”