The Wesleyan Soldiers are entrenched in a battle for respect.
The West Bay squad tops the boys division in the Dominos Pizza Under-19 Basketball League after winning their first six games. The Soldiers, along with their B team the Wesleyan Griffins, are doing plenty to assert Wesleyan Christian Academy as a powerhouse in local hoops.
Local coaches have taken notice of the Soldiers’ form. Technical director Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro said he is most impressed with the side’s interior play.
“After looking at Albis Amaya’s statistics, this kid has tremendous potential,” O’Garro said. “You will continue to see more of him as he grows. Along with Daniel Britton, the statistics tell you they are definitely dominating the boards.
“All in all, I think that’s a powerful team and a tough team to beat.” Both Wesleyan squads squared off last Tuesday, with the Soldiers besting the Griffins, 51-31. Arin Taylor led the winners with 15 points and five steals, Amaya had a solid double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Juawon Ebanks produced 11 points and nine rebounds. Jimmy Clarke led the Griffins with 13 points and 17 rebounds while Alex Thompson posted eight points and six assists.
With Pirates Week in full swing this weekend, the Soldiers won’t play again until next Tuesday, Nov. 12, against the Esso Blazers. The Cayman Islands Basketball Association Court off Eastern Avenue serves as the venue from 6 p.m. Esso were third in the standings, just behind the Griffins, as both clubs had won four of their first six games.
Esso recently had an impressive victory over the Bodden Town Reapers, 72-45. Javon Seymour paced the Blazers with 28 points and five steals with Franz Manderson Jr. posting 12 points and eight rebounds. Shaquille Heath countered for Bodden Town with 13 points and four rebounds. The Reapers had only one through their first six games this season, just ahead of winless John Gray High school while trailing the defending champions Wolves, who won half of their initial six contests.
For national men’s coach Daniel Augustine, the personnel available for the Soldiers is a big reason for the early success this season.
“Maleke Ebanks, Juawon and Arin, I feel, are three guys who have led the team in scoring,” Augustine said. “With Juawon, it’s points off him passing the ball and Maleke’s speed along gives teams something to think about and defenses a lot of work to do when he has the ball.
“Naithique Jackson is turning into a real weapon in terms of shooting. He has an excellent outside shot, behind the perimeter, he is really confident and getting to the basket whenever he wants. Someone people are not looking at is Jerome Bailey. He has definitely stepped up and given the Soldiers a deeper bench.”
The girls division continues to be dominated by the Lynx, who won their first five games. While star prodigy Hannah Parchment is now in school in the U.S., the frontrunners have plenty of firepower in the likes of Khailan O’Connor, who leads the league in scoring with 28.3 points per game.