THE premier junior basketball tournament in the country returns this week. The Father Marcian Peters Basketball Classic is all set to host its 32nd edition at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium December 7-16.
A total of 42 teams spread across six divisions have registered for the tournament thus far with more capable of being added as registration closes today.
The primary and junior boys have the highest concentration of teams with 11 entrants in each division. Eight teams are entered in the intermediate boys, five teams in the primary girls, four in the junior girls and another three in the intermediate girls’ division.
Games will run from 3:30pm to 9pm on weekdays and an amended schedule will be disseminated for weekend games.
Following a hiatus for the 2015 edition, the tournament had a successful return last year.
The Woodcock Hurricanes (primary girls), Kingsway Academy Saints (primary boys), SC McPherson Sharks (junior girls), Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins (junior boys), Harbour Island Cougars (senior girls) and CC Sweeting Cobras (intermediate boys) emerged as champions in their respective divisions as the tournament returned to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s schedule.
An entertaining championship day featured several close finishes, with the six games decided by an average margin of 3.8 points per game. Woodcock took a 24-21 win over the St Cecilia’s Strikers (PG), the Saints won 19-18 win over the Harbour Island Cougars (PB), the Sharks took a 14-12 win over the HO Nash Lions (JG), and the Cougars outlasted the Teleos Cherubims, 13-12 (SG).
In the junior boys’ title game, the Mystic Marlins pulled away late for a 33-23 win over the DW Davis Royals and the intermediate boys closed out play with the CC Sweeting Cobras’ 31-25 win over the Jordan Prince William Falcons.
There is a plethora of pre-season and mid-season tournaments for senior boys and the Father Marcian tournament is one of the few venues for the other divisions to be showcased.
In 2014, division winners included Freedom Baptist (PG), Temple Christian (PB), Harbour Island (JG), Aquinas College (JB), CR Walker (SG) and Queen’s College (IB).
In 2013, Harbour Island All Age School captured three of the six contested divisions – junior boys, intermediate boys and junior girls. Temple Christian won primary boys, The Carlton Francis Shockers won the primary girls’ division and CR Walker won senior girls.
The tournament traditionally features scores of teams from the primary girls and boys, junior girls and boys, intermediate boys and senior girls. The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s staff facilitates the event.
Father Marcian Peters, who passed away in 1981, was known as a national sporting icon for his contributions to basketball and softball as tools of social development. Today the tournament stands as the largest and most popular inter-school basketball event.
Tournament director in recent years, Scooter Reid, told the Tribune in previous interviews that immediate goals would include expanding the reach to have more girls’ teams.
“It is our intentions next tournament to have more girls play. Even though the games in the divisions for girls are good, we need to have more girls in the tournament. This was originally a girls tournament, so to have a decline in numbers in those divisions is a little disappointing,” he said. “So we would like to tell all the teams or as many as possible if they want to play they have to bring a girls team.”