By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
A PAIR of new national champions emerged from the Bahamas Basketball Federation’s Bunny Levarity National Round Robin and featured a title split between New Providence and Grand Bahama.
The NPBA’s Commonwealth Bank Giants won the Division I title while the Coca Cola Reach Out Saints protected home court in Grand Bahama with the Division II title at the Jack Hayward Gymnasium in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Giants – 86
Fast Track Gym Rats - 80
As they did for much of the season, D’Shon Taylor and Michael Bain Jr were the catalysts behind the Giants’ offence en route to the win.
Taylor finished with a game high 26 points, six rebounds and five assists while Bain added 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Jeffrey Henfield scored 10, Gamaliel Rose added 10 points and seven rebounds while Tehran Cox scored eight.
Trevor Bain led the Gym Rats with 18 points, Franklyn Petion scored 13 while Kiplin Fowler, Keno Russell and Desmond Butler all finished with eight points apiece.
The Giants’ ball movement led to their efficient offensive production all game long with 36 of their field goals coming on 22 assists.Tied at 72 with 4:21 left to play in regulation, the Giants went on a 9-1 run to put the game away. Taylor sparked the run with his jumper followed by another from Bain.
Trevor Bain split a pair at the line for the Gym Rats but the Giants got back to their run with a jumper from Henfield and a three from Bain gave the Giants an 81-73 lead with 2:34 left to play. The Gym Rats came within five but several key baskets down the stretch sealed the title for Commonwealth Bank.
The Giants got out to a 12-4 lead in the first quarter and took a 21-16 lead at the end of the period. The Gym Rats tied the game at 23 early in the second quarter when Devon Clark made the second of two free throws.
The Giants rebounded with a 14-4 run and took their first double figure lead of the game when Bain made a three pointer to make the score 37-27 with 3:36 left in the half.
Jabar Lightbourne’s late layup brought the Gym Rats within three, but Bain followed with his second three of the quarter on the ensuing possession. They led 42-36 at the half.
Fast Track would trim the deficit to just a single possession at several points in the third, but were unable to tie or take control. Henfield’s late jumper with 33 seconds left gave the Giants a 59-56 lead headed into the fourth and they would go on to outscore the Gym Rats by three in the final frame.
The national championships made its way back to the second city (Freeport) after it was hosted in Abaco last year. GBBA president Quentin Hall said that he was pleased to have the tournament back in Grand Bahama. “We’re happy to have the tournament here in Grand Bahama. We’ve been looking forward to it for an entire year. We know how it was to get to Abaco last year so we were happy to host the teams coming in.”
Both the Giants and Gym Rats opened the tournament on day with relatively untested wins on day one to begin their path to the championship. The Giants scored an 86-48 win over the Bimini Marlins led by 20 points and seven rebounds from Gameliel Rose. Fast Track would won 93-83 over the Marsh Harbour Hoopers out of Abaco. Trevor Bain and Keno Russell finished with 25 points and 21 points respectively to lead the Gym Rats.
On day two, the Giants met the Gym Rats for the first time and won 72-68, led by Michael Bain’s 18 points and 11 rebounds. The Hoopers also defeated the Marlins 72-70.
On day three, the Giants won 79-63 over the Hoopers and the Gym Rats outlasted the Marlins 81-85 in overtime.
Coca Cola Reach Out Saints – 87
Breezes High Flyers – 79
The Saints were the most dominant team in the field over the course of the weekend and cemented that status in the title game.
Joshua Cornish had 19 points for the Saints and several Tabernacle Baptist Falcons teammates – fresh off their national High School championship title – were also major contributors led by Regis Cooper’s 21 points and 12 rebounds, Seandre Todd’s 14 points and Shyrone Kemp had nine rebounds. Jack Hayward’s Cleavon Clarke scored 10 and Howard Hinzey added nine.
Jeremy Neely led the High Flyers with 17 points, Dave Davis had 10 points and 16 rebounds, Devonte Gibson finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Shanton Pratt added nine points and six steals.
Delano Forbes’ three pointer brought the High Flyers within one, 78-77 with 1:16 left to play, but the Saints closed the game on a 9-2 run. Hinzey made a layup, followed by a jumper from Cornish, and five free throws from Clarke down the stretch to secure the win.
The Saints opened tournament play with an 85-60 win over the High Flyers on day one. Todd led five players in double figures with 15 points. Also, on day one, the Crusaders (Eleuthera) escaped with a 71-69 win over the Young Legends out of Abaco. On day two, the High Flyers rebounded with an 81-71 win over the Young Legends, the Saints won 70-43 over the Bimini Marlins followed by the Legends’ 72-48 win over the Marlins and the High Flyers concluded day one with a 56-42 win over the Crusaders.
On day three, the Saints had their closest game of the tournament but won 68-63 over the Young Legends. The Crusaders won 48-44 over the Marlins, the High Flyers also defeated the Marlins 54-26 and the Saints concluded the afternoon with a 75-60 win over the Crusaders.