Cayman Islands basketball officially has another dynasty.
The Sol Blazers are Cayman’s national champions for the third straight year, defeating the Dominos Warriors for the third consecutive time. Sol won game three, 81-72, of their best-of-three series for division one of the Digicel National Men’s League. Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Center served as the venue last Sunday and over the previous two weeks as the Blazers won game one by 22 points before the Warriors forced the decisive third contest with a four-point victory in game two.
Jasen Campbell scored a team-high 21 points off three 3-pointers for Sol, Shaad O’Garro nabbed 17 points and 10 rebounds, Deandre Simpson netted 13 points and 16 rebounds, Sammy O’Garro contributed 13 points and Davion Cotterell chipped in 10 points. Dominos countered with 34 points including two 3-pointers from Collin Anglin and 27 points from Jerome Narcisse. Warriors big men Collin Bodden and Kenval Bryan also made an impact, combining for 24 rebounds and seven points.
The Blazers had varying reactions to their championship. Some players – like Shaad O’Garro and Josh Cotterell – were relieved to win.
“It was a very evenly matched series, I’m glad we won it,” O’Garro said.
“I feel we worked hard to have this opportunity,” Cotterell said. “This game was very hard to play. The moment was there and I’m just glad we came through.”
Others compared it to the ongoing NBA Finals between LeBron James’s Miami Heat and Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs, with Sammy O’Garro saying, “It feels like how LeBron is going to feel when he beats the Spurs. We penetrated the defense.”
The rest – like Deandre Simpson, Nicholas ‘Muscles’ Beverly and head coach Shawn Pitterson – spoke about the team’s dominance and the idea of going for a fourth title in a row next year.
“We made a few adjustments, we had some advantages,” Simpson said. “Our tempo was higher, compared to the other team. We wanted it more.”
“Big up to the fans and the sponsor,” Beverly said. “Next year it’ll be a four-peat.”
“We had a rough season in the regular season,” Pitterson said. “In the playoffs we had to make adjustments. I thank God for the overseas players coming back and I was well pleased to see them come play in these finals. I was so glad to have them back. We’re going for another one and we’ll keep going for it. Thanks to the sponsor for being with us these last 14 years. We have worked together to have a Blazers family. It’s about working hard together.”
Making the victory even sweeter was a check presentation for $2,000 by Sol Petroleum Cayman Ltd staff to the Blazers. Sol general manager Alan Neesome said the monetary award was a physical display of the company’s support for the team and local sports in general.
“This is a great team effort as we’ve been sponsoring the Blazers the last 14 years,” Neesome said. “We’re happy to be back as the winners in Cayman once again. It was a hard, long slog in the season but they regained their form, the team and the fans did good and I’m happy they came out with the victory.
“We want to help the youth of Cayman. It’s really important to keep the youth engaged in sports. We back that fully, we focus on growth in the youth as we do sponsorships in programs and other sports. The goal is to carry on doing that.”