Creighton wins Cayman Islands Classic

Governor Martyn Roper, with Sports Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, presents the Creighton Bluejays with the Cayman Classic trophy after the team beat the Clemson Tigers Wednesday night. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

John Gray High School gym was reportedly packed with 2,000 basketball fans Wednesday night for the championship game of the second annual Cayman Islands Classic basketball tournament.

Creighton and Clemson universities faced off as the top two of an eight-team field of collegiate competitors. Led by sophomore Ty-Shon Alexander, who scored a career-high 36 points in the game, Creighton beat the Tigers 87-82.

Victor “Voot” O’Garro, president of Caymax Sports, which organizes the tournament, said he was pleased to see more interest in the tournament this year. At last year’s final, he said, there were only about 1,400 spectators.

“This thing is going better and better every year,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve seen the stadium packed.”

He said he was also happy to have the support of new Governor Martyn Roper, who watched the game and presented the championship trophy to the Creighton team. Sports Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was also on hand to watch the game.

Mr. O’Garro said the tournament got greater exposure this year by being streamed on Facebook.

“I had friends in Greece looking at the game,” he said. “By this being seen all over the world, we know it’s going to grow.”

Alexander, who sank seven 3-point shots in the final game, was named the most outstanding player of the tournament. He was 9-of-16 shooting, missing just five from distance, and made all 11 of his free throws.

Clemson’s Marcquise Reed kept the game close with a 3-point play with 28 seconds left and Elijah Thomas forced a turnover on an inbound play, leading to Shelton Mitchell’s shot inside to make the score 83-80 to Creighton.

The Bluejays’ Davion Mintz followed with two free throws at the other end, and after Reed was off on a 3-pointer, Mintz sealed the game with a dunk.

In other final-day games, Malik Benlevi made eight 3-pointers and had 24 points and seven rebounds to help Georgia State beat Georgia in a 91-67 rout for third place in the tournament.

Illinois State took fifth place, beating short-handed Boise State 73-70.

The Redbirds’ Milik Yarbrough had 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead the Illinois State team.

Daniel Utomi sank six 3-pointers and had 22 points and nine rebounds to power the Akron Zips past St. Bonaventure 61-49 for seventh place.

Mr. O’Garro expects even better things from next year’s tournament.

“The teams that are already calling us are high-ranking teams,” he said.

What he calls “one of the biggest sports events the island has ever had,” should be even bigger next year, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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