By RENALDO DORSETT
BASED on the historic performance of the junior men’s national team at the recent Caribbean Basketball Confederation Under-16 Championships, the future looks bright for the country’s national team programme.
The Bahamas capped off a dominant six-game run by claiming the gold medal with an 84-57 win over host country Guyana at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in Georgetown, Guyana.
Domnick Bridgewater saved his best performance for the tournament finale and earned MVP honours with 34 points and eight steals.
Despite one of their worst shooting performances of the tournament where they shot just 37 per cent from the field, Bridgewater carried the team offensively en route to the title.
He shot 58 per cent (10-17) from the field, 43 per cent (3-7) from three and 85 per cent (11-13) from the free throw line.
Samuel Hunter scored 10, Joshua Cornish added seven points and nine rebounds while Michael Cartwright scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Detarrio Thompson scored seven and Alredo Brown scored six.
As it has been all tournament, defence was the calling card for Team Bahamas.
They limited Guyana to just 30 per cent shooting from the field and forced 32 turnovers, 26 of which were steals.
Though it was just by a single point, it was the first time the Bahamas trailed in the tournament. They eventually led by as much as 44 points. Guyana took a 10-9 lead at the 6:46 mark in the first quarter but Cartwright responded with a jumper to regain the lead for the Bahamas for good. His score sparked a 21-8 run and the Bahamas took a 30-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bahamas defensive clampdown continued over the course of the next two quarters where they would limit Guyana to eight points in the second and seven points in the third respectively.
The Bahamas led 54-26 at the half and took a 73-34 lead into the fourth. Nursing an insurmountable fourth quarter lead and managing the clock, the Bahamas was actually outscored 24-11 in the final period but were never threatened.
The Bahamas was one of the top three teams, including Guyana and Jamaica, to earn berths to the Centro Basket Under-17 Championship. At that tournament they will compete for spots in the FIBA Americas U-18 Cup, from which they can qualify for the FIBA U19 World Cup or the Youth Olympics.
The Bahamas was among a group of 10 teams for the boys’ championship. Group A included the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Dominica. Group B included Aruba, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the hosts Guyana.
The Bahamas finished the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record and dominated the tournament from the opening tip by winning each of their games by an average margin of 51.7 points per win.
The Bahamas routed Antigua and Barbuda, 109-71 in the tournament opener.
Bridgewater led the Bahamas with 16 points and six assists, both game highs.
He was one of seven Bahamian players in double figures including Cartwright who added 10 points and 16 rebounds,
Thompson finished with 14 points, Hunter added 12 points, while Cornish, Devonte Jennings and Christopher Johnson each finished with 11.
In game two they steamrolled the British Virgin Islands, 101-40.
Cartwright was a force at the pivot once again and finished with a team high 17 points and nine rebounds. Bridgewater and Hunter each finished with 14 points, while Michael Williams added 13 points and was one of three Bahamian players with at least eight rebounds.
In game three the Bahamas scored a tournament high and delivered the most lopsided win of the event with a 125-21 win over Dominica.
Seven Team Bahamas players reached double figures and every member of the 12-man roster reached the scorebook as they moved to 3-0 in the tournament thus far.
Bridgewater led the team with a game high 20 points and nine steals, Chosen Levarity had 18 points and nine rebounds, Hunter scored 13, Derrico Burrows and Jennings each added 12 points, Brown scored 10 and Johnson finished with a double double, 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bahamas concluded group play with a 100-41 win over Barbados.
It was a balanced scoring effort from Team Bahamas once again with seven players in double figures led by a pair of doubles from Cartwright and Hunter.
Cartwright finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds while Hunter added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Thompson shot a perfect 6-6 from the field and finished with a team high 15 points, Johnson stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and five steals, Williams and Brown each scored 11 while Bridgewater chipped in with 10.
They advanced to the final with a 72-51 win over previously undefeated Jamaica.
Bridgewater finished with 15 points and seven assists, Jennings scored 14, Hunter finished with a double double - 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Cornish and Johnson each scored 11.
After watching the dominating performances turned in by the boys, the Bahamas Basketball Federation’s girls’ team is hoping that they can go to Guyana and duplicate the effort at the CBC Under-16 Championships for Girls.
They will begin play in Pool B today against Suriname. After a day off on Wednesday, they will wrap up round robin competition on Thursday against Trinidad & Tobago.
Pool A will comprise of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands and Guyana.