Rattlers to face Mystic Marlins in title game


Sports Reporter


THE 32nd Hugh Campbell title game will be decided between two New Providence-based schools and a rematch of the 2014 GSSSA championship series.

The CI Gibson Rattlers and the Dame Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins will face off to decide high school basketball supremacy in the country 8pm tonight at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.

Both the Rattlers and Mystic Marlins advanced to the title game with surprisingly lopsided wins over their counterparts from Grand Bahama last night in the semifinals at the AF Adderley Gymnasium.

The Rattlers won 71-48 over the Eight Mile Rock Bluejays while the Mystic Marlins advanced with a 79-50 win over the St George’s Jaguars.

The matchup will feature four time Hugh Campbell champion Kevin Johnson leading his perennial contending Rattlers against his former player Denycko Bowles who has led the Mystic Marlins to their first Hugh Campbell title game in school history.

Bowles, who finished his high school days at CI Gibson when he helped coach Johnson win both the GSSSA and the prestigious Hugh Campbell titles in 2006, said he’s looking forward to facing his mentor on the other side of the court and noted that his team has grown since the last meeting between the two, the GSSSA finals.

“I think we are a more mature team than when we last played,” he said. “That was a a learning experience for us and we definitely feel like there are some adjustments we have made since then and we will have to make between now and the championship game to come out on top. We have to be more deliberate with the ball, efficient with the shots we take and, more than anything else, we have to take care of the basketball, cut down on turnovers and trust the system.”

Johnson also said winning the turnover battle would be the deciding factor in tonight’s title game.

“We have to remain well disciplined and stay focused. One more game to go but this is the biggest game of the season. We have to stay engaged, cut down on turnovers and just execute. Ball security will be important,” he said. “Mental toughness is going to be what wins this championship game. The key will be to remain engaged and not play out of character. We are going to need everything. This game is about everything we have worked all season for and we are going to play Rattlers basketball and leave it all on the floor.”

CI Gibson Rattlers - 71

Eight Mile Rock

Blue Jays - 48

Sparked by floor general Shakwon Lewis, the Rattlers built an early double-digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back and never relinquished control as they exacted revenge on the Bluejays for last year’s stunning one point win in the 2013 final four.

Oatman Lightbourne and Quincy Poitier each finished with 15 points, Lewis added seven points, five assists and three steals while Johnley Noel came off the bench to score 12. The Rattlers led 9-4 before they closed the first quarter on a 9-3 run. After Lewis made a baseline jumper, and Lightbourne made a free throw, Lewis dished an assist to Poitier and another to Noel.

The quarter ended with a tip in from Noel which just beat the buzzer to give the Rattlers an 18-7 lead.

Eight Mile Rock would trim the deficit to as little as six, but Lightbourne responded with a three pointer in transition and CI Gibson led 26-18 at the half. They outscored the Bluejays 25-14 in the third and took a 51-32 lead into the final frame.

The lead reached over 20 for the first time in the opening moments of the fourth when Poitier made a midrange jumper for a 55-34 lead. They led by as much as 25 in the quarter when Shamar Rolle made a jump hook in the lane for a 65-40 lead with just over two minutes left to play.

“Our bench was very important tonight, they came in and gave us valuable minutes and allowed the starters to rest, which will be huge for the championship game,” Johnson said.

Dame Doris Johnson

Mystic Marlins - 79

St George’s Jaguars - 50

An offensive-minded Mystic Marlins came out firing on all cylinders and produced one of the highest scoring games of the tournament to earn their championship berth. Like the Rattlers in the first semifinal, the Mystic Marlins built an early lead in the first quarter and led nearly wire to wire in the route.

Brendan Stubbs led the Mystic Marlins with 17 points, Shanton Pratt finished with 14 points and eight steals, Dwayne Dormeus finished with 12 points, while Game Atilus added 10 points and seven rebounds.

Kendrick Davis led St George’s with 18 points and 14 rebounds while Shakeel Butters added eight points.

Leading 9-5 the Mystic Marlins went on an 8-0 run to take control for good. Pratt came up with a steal at half court and finished with a fastbreak layup followed by back-to-back three pointers from Burton Oliver and Glen Wilson. They took a 17-5 lead in a matter of seconds and led 17-10 after the first quarter. It was the effort on the defensive end that was the answer for Doris Johnson anytime the Jaguars would make a run.

Burton stole an inbound pass with just two seconds left to play and scored just before the halftime buzzer to give his team a 30-23 advantage and regain momentum headed into the locker rooms.

The second half would be all Mystic Marlins as the Jaguars had no answer for the relentless full court pressure and were outscored 27-49. Leading just 33-25, Dormeus would make long range two pointers on consecutive possessions to regain the double digit lead in the third, 37-25. The lead ballooned to 20 after a 12-0 run capped by a Pratt layup to give his team a 45-25 lead with 3:26 left in the quarter.

Stubbs’ jumper just beat the third quarter buzzer and they took a 51-33 lead into the third. The Jaguars would never get within 15 points in the final quarter. “I think people have underestimated us all season,” Bowles said. “All season our defence and our shooting have been two of our calling cards and that will be two of the things that we expect to lead us to the championship.”


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment