By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE Noble Academy Spartans avenged their only defeat during the round robin play to hand the RM Bailey Pacers their only loss when it counted the most in the championship game of the inaugural Varsity Boys Spring Classic that concluded at Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium on Friday night.
The Spartans, whose philosophy has always been and is still on eduction rather than athletics, pulled off a 58-52 triumph in the final over the Pacers, who won their initial meeting 47-45.
“Basketball is just about making adjustments,” said Bullard of coming back from the loss to the Pacers. “The thing is when you are playing this type of tournament, you have a chance to come back around after losing. You can’t put your head down. You just have to make the adjustment.
“We just had to identify what we did wrong and made the right adjustment. So it was a pretty good challenge. It’s exciting. It’s great to win the tournament, but we were hoping to give another programme out there the opportunity to win it.”
Bullard said it was a great tournament and a lot of players came out and participated and they were able to penetrate on the inside for some high flying plays as well as light up the nets from the outside with their shooting.
The tournament offered a full athletic scholarship to attend Niagara College in Ontario, Canada. Kenneth Romer, who provided some of the acrobatic moves on the court, was the recipient of the scholarship after he was named the most valuable player.
“It was good to go out there and win the tournament,” Romer said. “I expected us to play much better than we did when we lost to them (RM Bailey) and we did. We had a very good team and I was just happy that I got the MVP, but this was really a good team effort.”
The Spartans also got 14 from Kendrick Sands, nine from Rufus Dean and eight apiece from Kevin Cooper and Tyreke Colebrooke.
RM Bailey was led by Samuel Dean with 12. Latrell Hinsey scored 11.
“For the whole tournament, we came out strong. We had three slow starts and we turned them in victories, but today, we let their mentality lost the game for us,” said Ryan Ferguson, coach of RM Bailey. “We had our game plan and they stepped out of it.
“Our guards knew that we worked the ball around and shared it when we got the best shot. We really hogged the ball too much. This was their first tournament and they just wanted the victory more than we did. We did good, but we could have done better. I have to give it to Noble and their coach. They beat us today.”
While the Pacers advanced to the championship on Thursday night after they beat the Jordan Prince Williams Falcons 46-41, Noble Preparatory had to come back on Friday to pull off a 65-60 win over the Falcons to secure their spot.
They came right back and carried that momentum into the championship game, opening up a 17-9 first quarter lead. They went on to post a 30-17 margin at the half. However, things heated up in the second half.
The Pacers managed to cut the deficit from 35-26 to 35-32 in the last three minutes of the third, but Noble stayed ahead 37-32 going into the final quarter.
In the fourth, Stefon Augustine soared through the middle for a one-handed dunk to bring the Pacers within two (37-35) with about 5:55 on the clock. But at the 2:05 mark, Kenneth Reckley electrified the gym when he returned the favour with a vicious one-handed dunk, completing a three-point play to extend the Spartans lead to 51-42.
“I was just waiting for the right opportunity,” Romer said. “When I got the pass, I just went for it.”
Down the stretch, Tyreke Colebrooke converted a pair of free throws and canned two consecutive baskets to push Noble Preparatory ahead 57-47 and it was just a matter of what the final score would be before they began their celebrations.
“We’re a team that strive more on our education. That is why we don’t ply in too many tournaments,” Bullard said. “All of our players are earning 3.0 and above grade point averages and we’re trying to get as many of them of to school as we can so that they can further their education.”
The tournament drew some international interest as David Whitty, the Director of Basketball and Varsity coach as well as Gerry Piovesana, the junior boys coach from Ridley College in Canada were in attendance. Two referees, Paul Lewin and Curits McClean also came in from Canada to officiate.
Results of games played in the tournament are as follows: RM Bailey def. the Warriors 60-50; Noble Preparatory def. Akhepran Academy 50-34; Jordan Prince Williams def. Charles W Saunders 37-19; the Huskies def. the Young Ballers 49-45; the Warriors def. Akhepran Academy 76-50; the Young Ballers def. Charles W Saunders 39-36; RM Bailey def. Noble Preparatory 47-45; Jordan Prince Williams def. the Huskies 43-37; Akhepran Academy def. the TYoung Ballers 52-42; the Warriors def. the Huskies 61-60; Noble Preparatory def. Akhepran Academy 72-51; RM Bailey def. Jordan Prince Williams 46-41; Noble Preparatory def. the Warriors 63-55 and Noble Preparatory def. Jordan Prince Williams 65-60.
Named to the All-Tournament team were Adam Johnson and Rhandon Scott from Jordan Prince Williams; Samuel Dean and Latrell Hinsey from RM Bailey; Corey Sands from the Huskies; Lynden Wallace from Akahpren; Henrick Sands, Aaron Lloyd, Tyreke Colebrooke and Kenneth Reckley from Noble Preparatory and A Roker and Troy Trembley from the Warriors.
Noble Preparatory hope to make the tournament an annual one.