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Leaders lose

Lester Vaughan’s Brandon Hope (with ball) makes a strong offensive move on St Leonard’s as team-mate Zacary Cave (backing) looks on.

St. Leonard’s fell to pieces in the second-half to go down 65-53 to Lester Vaughan School, as the exciting action in the United Insurance-sponsored National Sports Council’s Senior Schools Basketball Tournament continued at the YMCA yesterday evening.

Perhaps the danger signs were there as Antoine Lawrence singularly carried most of the offensive responsibility for the Richmond Gap side and did so superbly, whether driving to the basket or pulling up for 12 to 15 foot jumpers. But basketball is a team sport.

Lester Vaughan, on the other hand, rushed their offence and took several ill-advised shots without effectively spreading the ball. Brandon Hope banked a few shots to keep the score-line rather close. However neither team was particularly spectacular on offence. But at the half-time break St. Leonard’s had an important seven-point lead with the score being 25-18.

Whatever pep talk the Lester Vaughan coach provided to his charges worked wonders as they returned to the court an almost unrecognised unit with greater energy and showing better shot selection. Surprisingly, St. Leonard’s quickly wilted under the pressure and also became too preoccupied with some of the official’s calls.

Lester Vaughan exploded for 47 second-half points with Hope, who finished with 21 points and Brett Williams,14, dominating in the paint for their school, and also playing some decent defence on the other end of the court. Lawrence continued to be the “go-to guy” for St. Leonard’s but needed more offensive help that did not come, exemplified by the fact that none of his team-mates reached double figures. As if that deficit were not enough, St. Leonard’s failed to get enough stops on defence to keep the points differentiation manageable.

When the final whistle went, what had started as a promising evening for St. Leonard’s ended in a 12-point defeat. Lawrence led his team with 21 points. It was an important win for the third-placed Lester Vaughan against the Division 2 leaders.

At Graydon Sealy, the home-side kept up their pressure in the upper half of the table with an 111-24 blow-out of St James Secondary, who are nestled just above Deighton Griffith at the bottom half of the group.

That Shaquan Newton tallied 35 points on his own told its own story, outscoring the entire St. James School for whom only Delan Willey showed any stomach for the fight.

Once again as has been their practice, the former Garrison School spread the offence around with five players getting into double figures. They also played excellent defence, no doubt buoyed by their overwhelming offence. They pressured the in-bound passes, they stormed the boards at both ends, they harassed St. James’ guards, they challenged shots, they frequently stole the ball, and just simply gave the lads from the north an evening of headaches.

St. James managed 18 points in the first half, a total tripled by the hosts who had 55 at the break. If the visitors had problems in the first half, it got worse after the second tip-off. They managed a meagre six points in the second half as their game came virtually to a screeching halt. Not even Willey could provide much impetus for them after the break. Newton scored at will, imposing himself in the key and being the beneficiary of a number of easy points off the break. He repeatedly beat defenders off the dribble. Andrew Ifill with 19 points, Justin Pile with 18, Theo Greenidge with 15 and Amal Smith with 12, were as usual Graydon Sealy’s quality quintet. The whistle could not have come any sooner for the suffering St. James team.

In Speightstown, it was a much closer affair between two teams that have had their struggles during the tournament. Alexandra defeated the bottom-placed Deighton Griffith 46-32, a margin with which the Christ Church team can take some comfort after facing some previous blow-outs invariably every time they walk onto the court.

The game was fraught with missed opportunities but with the hosts committing fewer mistakes. Alexandra’s Jadeva Marshall had a game-high 21 points with team-mate Rasheed Maynard netting 14.

After a first-half where they scored 29 points, many of them because of slack defence on the part of Deighton Griffith, Alexandra’s game went awry to such an extent that they only managed 17 second-half points. Against a stronger offensive unit, they would have surely suffered the consequences.

None of the Deighton Griffith players managed double figures, with Joshua Marshall’s eight points their best offensive output.

Tomorrow Alexandra host Lester Vaughan, Graydon Sealy travel to Deighton Griffith and St James Secondary entertain Ellerslie in Division 2 match-ups. On Thursday Foundation host the Barbados Community College, Combermere travel to Crumpton Street to play Harrison College, Queen’s College entertain The Lodge School at Husbands and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic travel to Martindale’s Road to play The St Michael School.

All games start at 3.30 p.m. (WG)

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