THE FINISH LINE: Jonquel, Buddy making a name for themselves on the hardwood


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 Week That Was

As we began the new year, the focus was on a couple of Bahamians who continued to shine for their respective men’s and women’s collegiate teams in the United States of America. We had this discussion last year about two of these phenomenal players, but it’s worth a replay considering the achievements they have secured so far this year.

Heading the list was Chavanno ‘Buddy’ Hield, who had one of the most spectacular accomplishments this year, producing a career high 46-point performance in a 109-106 triple overtime loss by his No.2 ranked Oklahoma Sooners to the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.

Hield, who grew up shooting the ball in rims put on the lamp poles in his community in Grand Bahama, is off to a fantastic showing in his senior year and has been given great reviews by the television commentators, including the legendary Dick Vitale, who has projected that the 22-year-old has the ability to be one of the top picks in the National Basketball Association’s Draft in June.

Then there’s Jonquel Jones, the Grand Bahamian sensation who has been wreaking havoc for her opponents as a member of the George Washington Colonials women’s basketball team. It seems as if everytime she steps out on the court, Jones has been able to add some feat to her résumé.

And like Hield, Jones’ name continues to be mentioned as a potential top draft pick in the Women’s National Basketball Association. Jones, who just celebrated her 22nd birthday on Tuesday, had another monster double-double of 19 points and 17 rebounds as GW pulled off a 68-52 victory over Atlantic 10 foe Rhode Island on Wednesday.

Both players are also in line for national player of the year honours. What a remarkable feat for the Bahamas if they can accomplish those personal triumphs and lead their teams to the NCAA Championships as they close out their collegiate careers and go on to secure their berths in the NBA and the WNBA.

It’s just a pity that the Bahamas was not in contention to compete for spots in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August. They would have certainly been valuable assets to the Bahamas Basketball Federation’s national programme. In due time, I’m sure they will make their way home at the right opportunity to display their skills for the Bahamas.

Welcome home coach

George Cleare

After his sting at the University of Georgia, Cleare returned home and relaunched his High Performance Management Team, which is similar to the Racers Track Club in Jamaica that features triple world record holder Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir.

Leading the HPMT are quarter-milers Steven Gardiner, Andretti Bain and Lanece Clarke.

Before leaving for Athens, Georgia, about five years ago, Cleare had talked about developing an elite training programme here in the Bahamas and now that his contract has been completed, he’s back home and making good on his promise to get the job done.

For too long, we’ve seen our elite athletes go off to school in the United States and they stay there to train after they’ve completed their education, part of the problem is there was really no sustainable training programme that they could participate in and so, for the most part, the athletes have taken advantage of the environment in the US.

There were some exceptions to the norm like Bain, who spent the past few years here since graduating and now one of the fixtures in HPMT after training previously under coach Fritz Grant and there’s Ramon Miller, who has proven over and over again for the last few years that there’s nothing like the “good old home cooking” as he has made his strides under coach Tyrone Burrows.

A number of coaches, who are based in the USA, have indicated previously that they were all looking at the possibility of coming home and establishing a programme here. The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture also indicated that they were also interested in employing some of these coaches in an academy, but that is yet to get off the ground.

The Week Ahead

The track season is scheduled to get underway at the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium on Saturday with the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations hosting the Odd Distance Track Meet. I’m sure everybody will have an eye on the new administration, headed by Rosamunde Carey, to see how well they function in the post-Mike Sands era. The meet gets started at noon.

And while the New Providence Basketball Association will resume their 2015/16 regular season at the AF Adderley Gymnasium, the New Providence Women’s Basketball Association will remain on break, but they will host their first NPWBA All Girls High School Basketball Tournament at the DW Davis Gymnasium.

The tournament, which is slated to run from tonight through Monday, will honour long-time coach Anthony Swaby, who was a driving force in the formation of the league and has also served as the coach of the Burger King Angels, the first three-time champions of the league as well as the former national women’s head coach.

It’s an honour that Swaby deserves, having worked in the trenches assisting so many of the young female basketball players, not only to develop their skills right here at home, but in getting off to college where they were able to continue to shine, playing the game at a much higher level.

This is also going to be a busy weekend for all those sloop sailing lovers as the second King Eric One-For-All Regatta is all set to liven up Montagu Bay. The event will officially kick off the 2016 sloop sailing season that got started last weekend with the Bulla Reg C Class Regatta in Georgetown, Exuma.

And over at the Winton Rugby Pitch, the Bahamas men’s national team will take on the USA South team in a North Caribbean Divisional playoff game, starting at 3pm. The winner will advance to the North Caribbean Division 1. No doubt, we will be pulling for Team Bahamas, who finished at the top of the division II last year. But their hands will be full with the Americans, who finished at the bottom of division 1 last year. It should be quite an exciting match-up and an exciting holiday weekend ahead of us. Not bad to start the first official weekend of sports in the new year.


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