THE FINISH LINE: Women’s basketball takes a quantum leap with title win


Brent Stubbs


Senior Sports Reporter


IT’S not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.

• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in the local sports scene, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.


The Bahamas Basketball Federation has seen the resurgence of the women’s basketball programme, which took a quantum leap by winning the Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

While it wasn’t the first time that the Bahamas has emerged as the queens of the Caribbean, it’s been about a decade that we last accomplished the feat under the coaching staff headed by Felix ‘Fly’ Musgrove. Prior to that, the only other time that the Bahamas was successful in winning the title was under the staff headed then by Anthony Swaby.

Usher in Yolett McPhee-McCuin, a former national team player from Grand Bahama, and after falling short a year ago, the Bahamas returned to the top of the mountain by going undefeated. It was the continuation of last year’s 4-1 record that saw the team miss out on getting into the playoffs because of the point spread.

McPhee-McCuin, the first Bahamian female to serve as a head coach of a NCAA Division One school at Jacksonville University three years ago, made history again when she became the first female to win the CBC title. She now stands out in a sport where she is primarily overshadowed by her much taller players.

The Bahamas has now earned a trip to the 2016 CentroBasket Tournament where the team will have a chance to get closer to qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Toyko, Japan.

While this year’s team saw the return of some of the players from last year and the addition to some new players, it’s obvious that the work will begin now for the federation, McPhee-McCuin and her coaching staff that includes Donnie Culmer and Varel Davis-Clarke to get all of the pieces in place for next year.

Taking nothing away from those who played this year, including most valuable player Shanae Armbrister, Philicia Kelly, Shalonda Neely, Linda Pierre and Albertha Russell, the Bahamas will need to require the services of both Jonquel Jones and Leashia Grant, and of course Waltiea Rolle to beef up their front court.

Jones and Grant, both of whom were pivotal in the team’s success, were unable to travel this year and the federation is yet to include Rolle as a part of their rotation, although she’s the only Bahamian female currently playing in the professional ranks, including a short sting in the WNBA with the Seattle Storm.

The Centrobasket is a FIBA-sponsored international basketball tournament where national teams from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean participate. These countries make up the Central American and Caribbean Confederation (CONCENCABA). The top three or four teams typically earn berths to the FIBA Americas Championships, from which they can qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup or the Olympics.

McPhee-McCuin has already alluded in her post-tournament comments to the fact that “we have some other players who didn’t travel,” which means that she’s definitely looking at beefing up her line-up to combat the more vigorous competition that they will face next year.

In the meantime, congratulations to the team, including the 16-year-old point guard Valarie Nesbitt, who is considered one of the future stars in the backcourt when players like Diasti Delancy and Latoya ‘Lil Thing’ Thompson move off the scene. Nesbitt, according to the coaching staff, performed exceptionally well in her role off the bench.

Other members of the team were Tracy Lewis, Malesha Petterson and Pedrica Bain.

The Week Ahead

We will keep our eyes on the progress that the men’s national basketball team are making in Tortola as they seek to defend their title at the CBC Championships this weekend. So far, Mario Bowleg’s debut as the new head coach is off to a fantastic start as the team is undefeated. One thing is certain.

The Bahamas has always been laden with talent and with a mixture of professional, collegiate and local players, Bowleg, assisted by Wayde Watson and Norris Bain from Grand Bahama, are poised to keep the Bahamas in the spotlight even though some players are missing like Mychel Thompson.

Of course, Thompson was coming off a busy year in which he helped the Golden State Warriors’ affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors win the NBA D-League title, while he went on to watch as his brother Klay Thompson did the same with Golden State as they clinched the NBA title.

Together, they made history becoming the first brothers to win the two crowns in the same organisation in the same year. They added to their legacy and that of the Bahamas as they joined their father, Mychal ‘Sweet Bells’ Thompson in being the only father-son combo to achieve the championship feat as Thompson Sr is a two-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers.

NBA All-Star Klay Thompson has already played for the United States as a member of the World Championship team, but could you imagine him teaming up with Mychel to play for the Bahamas in our quest to get to the Olympics.

That would be epic for such a tiny nation as the Bahamas.

But for now, we can only celebrate with the Thompson family for their accomplishment.


I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my deepest sympathy to the family of the late Gonzalo Caine.

Not many people may remember, but Caine was responsible for introducing ‘Golden Girl’ Sevatheda Fynes to the track and field fraternity as a student out of Abaco back in the 1990s.

I remember as a young reporter when I first saw Fynes competing as a barefoot girl that I chased her down to get an interview at the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium. When she reached their training camp, she called coach Caine and told him that this man was following her.

Caine politely told her there’s nothing to worry about. He’s only a reporter who was interested in getting an interview. He advised her then to get used to it because she was going to get more and more reporters coming to her for interviews. So said, so done.

Ever since that day, Fynes, who was later further developed by Evon Wisdom when she came to Nassau, was a major hit, representing the Bahamas from the junior to the senior circuit, CARIFTA to the Olympic Games and winning numerous medals, including the gold at both the IAAF World Championships and the Olympics as a member of the women’s 4 x 100 relay team.

Caine, a native from the Grenadines, would have gone on to coach a number of athletes in the Family Islands and New Providence. He may have encouraged his share of setbacks, but he would and should be remembered as one of those individuals who made his contribution and left his footsteps in the sand of time.

May his soul rest in peace.


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