By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
IN an effort to provide more opportunities for the high school players to improve their level of play before they head into international competition, Ryan Turnquest and a group of coaches have formed the Elite Girls Basketball League.
The league, which features six teams comprising of at least eight players each, got started two weeks ago and will continue at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium at 1pm on Saturday.
According to Turnquest, each team, which has adapted a nickname from the Women’s National Basketball Association, is expected to play a minimum of 15 games before they wrap up with the postseason in November.
Turnquest noted that the league came out of the formation of the Elite Basketball Club.
The club was formed be Varel Davis and Shakira Farrington after the decision was made by the Bahamas Basketball Federation to not take the junior girls’ national team to the FIBA Under-16 Girls Tournament because of a lack of funding.
He noted that while the players were quite disappointed after putting in almost four months of practice, they raised some funds to take the team to the AAU Tournament in Orlando, Florida where they placed second. They then took another trip to Indiana, but was unsuccessful. After the resignation of Clarke, Turnquest said he took over with Farrington as his assistant and they were joined by the assistance of his Rockets Basketball Club team-mates Able Joseph and Roosevelt ‘Chicken’ Turnquest. Women’s national team player joined the coaching staff as they participated in another tournament in Orlando.
After engaging them in a series of training sessions at least three times in the afternoons and about twice in the morning with strength and conditioning in the afternoons since August, Turnquest said the idea came up to put the girls into this developmental league on Saturdays and some Sundays.
“This is just an arena for all the girls to come together under one roof and play so that they can develop their skills,” Turnquest said. “They will play about 15 games and then they will go into the playoffs and then the championship where they will play or rings and trophies.”
The teams competing are the CI Gibson Sparks, Elite Ballers 1 Liberty, Elite Ballers 2 Mercury, Elite Ballers 3 Storm, Lucayans Aces and the SAC Chi-Town.
“We will have fully refereed games which will be played using the same rules that they will play when they go to these tournaments in the US,” Turnquest said. “They normally play six minutes quarters here, but when they go away, they play 16 minutes stop clock.
“I watched the local high school programme here where the coaches only concentrate on winning the high school league championship title and then they move onto the next sport, but the girls are not really developing. So, I want to concentrate on these girls to see if we can get them ready.”
From the league play, the coaches will select the best 10 players to represent the Elite Ballers as they participate in a tournament in Orlando from November 16-20 and then they will travel again from December 16-21 in Las Vegas.
Proceeds from the gate, which include $2 per adult and $1 for children, will be used to aid in their trips, along with some assistance from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and other corporate citizens.
As the third vice president of the New Providence Basketball Association, Turnquest said the league may make an appearance during the opening night of the NPBA season on November 11. He noted that most of the players will more than likely be on some of the teams in the New Providence Women’s Basketball Association,
Turnquest revealed that the league will resume in January and continue the same format until March before they have their final window during the summer. There also plans to take a team on a full AAU circuit in July.