Hannah Parchment is the face of Cayman’s girls national basketball team in Mexico.
Parchment, 15, is the team captain for the Under-15 squad as it plays in the CentroBasket Championships in Mexico City. Matches started on Wednesday and the tournament wraps up on Sunday, 19 August.
Cayman is making its inaugural appearance in the competition and Parchment, who turns 16 next May, is confident in her peers.
“This is the first time I’m playing nationally for a team,” Parchment said. “We can go far, we can do good when we’re away. This is our first such tournament and we feel pressure. We’re all human and we could all do bad at some point.”
Parchment, a West Bay native, is one of 12 girls on the squad. The others are Melissa Bridgemohan, Alyssa Connor, Rochel Gardener, Alessandra Hawkins, Khadijah Lewin, Yolanni Manzanares, La-Torae Nixon (vice-captain), Khailan O’Connor, Chloe Powery, Amanda Stone and Jade Wheeler.
Most of the ladies have experience playing in the local youth leagues, from the U14 ranks up to the U19 category. Parchment should have help in large part from stars Nixon and Powery. The trio played in the women’s league, with Nixon, 14, having been the centrepiece of back-to-back national championships with the Home Gas Flames.
Expectations for the team are mixed. While Nixon and Powery can power Cayman to victories, the side only qualified for CentroBasket through their participation in the Caribbean Basketball Confederation U15 Youth Championships. A mere three countries were able to send a team to that tournament and thus Cayman earned an automatic berth.
Parchment, the daughter of basketball figure Richard Parchment, admits it is daunting to serve as the team leader.
“As captain, the pressure is on you. Your team-mates are looking to see what you do. If you mess up and do something horrible, that will negatively affect the team.
“I have to work hard and motivate the rest of the team. We all really respect each other and I was voted to be captain by the team. The rest of the team really respects that.”
Guiding Parchment will be Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro as the head coach, Wendy Manzanares as the assistant coach and Latasha Nixon as the team manager. The girls, whose uniforms are being provided by Sports Port Ltd, have been training since the start of the year at the First Baptist Church.
The ladies play against defending champions Puerto Rico before tackling Guatemala and Barbados in Group A. There are eight competing countries in all, with Group B consisting of Mexico, El Salvador, the Bahamas and Costa Rica. The Cayman team is expected to return next Monday, 20 August.
For the record, CentroBasket is an International Basketball Federation (FIBA)-sponsored basketball tournament featuring Central American and Caribbean countries in the Central American and Caribbean Confederation. The top four teams earn berths to the FIBA America Championships, which leads up to the FIBA World Championships and the Olympics.
Cayman will also send a national U15 boys side to CentroBasket. They play in San Salvador, El Salvador on 23-31 August. The boys side is slated to leave on 20 August and return on 3 September.