The Lynx overcame many odds in their championship run on the court.
One of the issues the girls champions of the Dominos Pizza Under-19 Basketball League faced was the departure of Hannah Parchment midway through the season. After winning their first five games, the Lynx would sputter to an 8-4 record and a narrow seven-point semifinal win over a Monarchs team that had just four wins all year. Head coach Denton Cole said his team stepped up mentally and physically.
“It’s been a great season but after Hannah left, we lost two games in a row and people were beginning to doubt us,” Cole said. “The hard work and dedication of the remaining players says a lot about the character of this team. Coaching girls is also very, very different from coaching boys in basketball.
“The Lynx basketball team consisted of seven girls this season, all of whom made key contributions to our success. We were winning by large margins at the start of the season because we had Hannah, who subsequently returned to high school in the United States. After her departure, all of the players were forced to increase their contribution and skill level so we could still compete. I value the hard work done on defense as much as the finesse scoring of our best player.
“Overall we were led in scoring by the league’s most improved player and Finals Most Valuable Player Khailan O’Connor and we were inspired defensively by Amanda Stone, who almost averaged a double-double this season. We also had two players – Gina Bush and Janel Style – who were relatively new to the game and by increasing their skill set throughout the season, we could depend on them for key baskets that pulled us out of tough games.
“Every team needs a good captain and Melissa Bridgemohan represents a calm head that guides us through rough patches, especially off the court. Overall the high points of the season for me were Jade Wheeler’s 22 rebounds in the semifinals against the Monarchs and Khailan’s 39 points in the finals.”
The Lynx won their first title in franchise history by beating the Sparks, 56-51, this month at the Camana Bay Arts and Recreation Center. In addition to O’Connor’s performance, Stone netted eight points and 13 rebounds. April Ebanks posted 29 points and 25 rebounds for coach Wendy Manzanares and the Sparks and Alessandra Hawkins added nine points and six steals.
As Cole stated, Parchment, 16, left the team due to school. Prior to her departure, she ranked in the top ten in many offensive categories. Parchment went into the competition as one of Cayman’s most accomplished players having been part of multiple championship teams at the youth and adult level. Her latest title came with the Welly’s Cool Spot this summer. She had famously captained the national Under-15 girls team that finished fifth in Mexico City, Mexico during the 2012 CentroBasket Championships. As a result, Cayman had the top girls team in the Caribbean for that age group.
At first, Parchment was going to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida before ending up at Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg, Virginia. Much of her school funding was provided by the Young Nation Builders Scholarship Fund, the brainchild of former premier McKeeva Bush. With her father Richard being a political advisor to Bush and the current government slashing the fund’s financing, Parchment has become the face of another scandal involving Cayman’s former leader.
In spite of Parchment’s absence, the Lynx rebounded to surprise many with their title run. Among those left impressed by the final result was technical director for Cayman basketball Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro.
“In the finals, I was not surprised but disappointed,” O’Garro said. “The Sparks were up three-quarters of the game but when the Lynx caught up, April dropped her shoulders and that was a big mistake. The lead changed hands and the Lynx never looked back. It shows coach Cole did a fantastic job with the girls. Even when losing, he got the girls to play their best in spite of Wendy having the better team. Khailan stepped up to the plate and did a fantastic job and you have to give credit to the Lynx, who were down but never gave up.”