By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
WITH the National High School Basketball Championships just under two weeks away, former NBA player Dexter Cambridge voiced his concern at the exclusion of many Family Island teams.
Now a coach at North Eleuthera High School, Cambridge said his team, like many others around the country, were at the lack of exposure and missed an opportunity for family island student-athletes.
The Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture and Bahamas Basketball Federation, will host the nationals March 27-April 1 in Grand Bahama.
Event organisers said the tournament will solely include a single division for senior boys with the suspension of the Family Island division due to expenses and budgetary constraints.
Twenty teams will qualify outright with the expected addition of several wild card teams.
“We just have so many unanswered questions and I feel it is truly unfair to these players if it is a true national championship. Why would you remove the Family Island division from competition if it really is supposed to be a national championship? We know most of our talent comes from the family islands so what opportunity does it give the players who lack exposure,” Cambridge said.
In the three previous editions of the event, the tournament hosted two divisions for senior boys, one exclusively for Family Island schools.
Cambridge, the Eleuthera native, attended Lon Morris Junior College and the University of Texas before he played in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks during the 1993 season. He noted that the Family Islands have other talented players that can use the sport to follow the same path.
“My guys were really disappointed this year because the nationals is their opportunity and it really legitimised the work they put in to play on a bigger stage. For the last few years, Central Eleuthera won and was at the nationals.
“They played well and represented but my guys, this year to win the championship and earn their spot so they thought this was the year we thought they would have their shot,” Cambridge said.
“On the Family Islands they don’t get to play as much, they’re not seen and recognised but we know the talent is there. The GSSSA MVP, Malachi McCoy, is from Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera. If these guys don’t go and get their opportunities, how would they get to develop? We play about 5-6 games for the season so these tournaments are important for their exposure. They have to play in as many as possible.”
Gateway Academy out of Bimini are the defending champions of the Family Island division and will now compete among the larger programmes. “I’m not sure of the message we are sending to our Family Island programmes. Why add more teams if you take out the family island division, what message are we sending to the kids in the family islands. We don’t get to travel, we don’t get the opportunities, they don’t have the funding to do it so they become an afterthought,” Cambridge said.
This tournament was created to showcase top teams from various school leagues for the senior boys’ and girls’ divisions.