By BRENT STUBBS
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 NCAA Basketball Association is gearing up for their March Madness next month when Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners are expected to lead the charge for a couple of Bahamian basketball players in action for their respective teams.
Here at home, we’re smack into what we can call the Bahamian version of the February Festival as the local high schools, particularly the senior boys, prepare for the ultimate showdown in the prestigious Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic.
It got started last week with the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools crowning their new champions at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium and the excitement continues this week as the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association’s teams battle for supremacy. From there, it will culminate with the Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic, set for February 22-29 at the AF Adderley Gymnasium.
There’s a new twist this year as the Ministry of Education’s Sports Division, headed by Evon Wisdom, is planning to stage the first National High School Basketball Tournament in Grand Bahama in March where the top teams from all of the divisions are expected to converge to really determine who is the best high school basketball teams in the country.
Ever since the split between the government and private schools back in the early 1980s, there has been a call for an unification of the championship titles in basketball similar to what they have done in athletics with the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ National High School Track and Field Championships.
The Hugh Campbell has come close to that, but for some reason, they were not able to attract the St Augustine’s College Big Red Machine to participate in the tournament, even when they were the BAISS champions. In the late 1990s, there were some plans afloat to stage a tournament that would have matched the top teams from the BAISS and the GSSSA, but in the days leading up to the event, the two bodies came to a crossroads and the showdown didn’t materialised.
The idea by the Ministry of Education to host the National Tournament is a brilliant idea and it could be a success if all of the participating schools can agree to the terms and head to Grand Bahama. Such a venture was tried in volleyball about two years ago, but not all of the championship teams participated.
This year’s BAISS champions, the Jordan Prince Williams Falcons have indicated that they have received their format letter of invite. At a special assembly at the school to celebrate the achievement of both their senior and junior boys as the new BAISS champions, principal Eugene Bonamy put out a challenge to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson that they will need the funding to travel to Grand Bahama.
In a diplomatic political response, Dr Johnson consented to ensure that they will be taken care of.
I’m sure when the GSSSA championship is completed this week, whoever wins the senior boys crown will be making the same plea. And rightfully so, if this is a national tournament, concessions should be made for the teams participating by the organisers and the sponsors, whether it’s with their airfare or accommodations, or both.
It’s not quite the same when it comes to Hugh Campbell Classic, which is an invitational event. In that respect, teams make their way to the tournament and find their own accommodations. However, over the years, I believe that the organisers from AF Adderley Junior High School have made some concessions to the Family Island teams, albeit, not as much as they would like to receive.
THE WEEK AHEAD
This is the height of the track and field season as well.
While the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools took center stage this week with their annual track and field championships at the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium, the GSSSA will be in the spotlight this week.
The association will host the junior version of the championships on Thursday and Wednesday, starting at 9am and then on Thursday and Friday, the focus will switch to the senior high schools.
The championships are being held early as the BAAA will come back over the weekend of March 9-12 with their Carifta trials in a bid to select the team that will represent the Bahamas at the Carifta Games, scheduled for March 24-28 in Grenada.
This week, the Grand Bahama Secondary Schools Athletic Association is also hosting their championships.
So far, a number of athletes have attained the qualifying standards in meets held up to this point, but the main emphasis will be on the trials. The newly-elected executive team, headed by Rosamunde Carey, have not yet announced whether or not they will continue the policy that the previous administration instituted last year when only athletes who attained the qualifying standards were selected to the team.
I think it’s a policy that the BAAA should stick with because its the only way that they can make sure that the athletes prepare themselves for the high level of competition that is exhibited at the games. It should be noted that some of these same athletes competing for the various countries are at the collegiate level and could be participating in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.
So I join the chorus in saying let’s stick with the standards so that we can definitely get the best possible team to represent the country at the top regional track and field meet for junior athletes.