Raptors JG, Royals JB, Knights SG and Rattlers SB take 1-0 leads
There were a few close games to tip off the 2023 Government Secondary School Sports Association (GSSSA) best-of-three basketball championships at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium yesterday.
Striking first in the senior boys division was the C.I. Gibson Rattlers. They held off a pesky Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves squad, 58-49. In the senior girls, the C.R. Walker Knights upset the Rattlers, 47-46, on late game heroics to take a 1-0 lead in that series.
The D.W. Davis Royals held back the S.C. McPherson Sharks in the junior boys division, winning 40-35, to go up 1-0 in that series. The C.H. Reeves Raptors secured a slightly convincing victory, 31-23, over the H.O. Nash Lions to take a 1-0 lead in the junior girls competition.
The second game of all four series are set for today at the same venue starting at 4 p.m.
Raptors 31, Lions 23
Ricarra Beadle was unstoppable for the Raptors, scoring 16 of her 26 total points in the second half. After the first half of play, it was Beadle 10, Lions 11. At the end of the first half, the Raptors held a 14-11 lead.
Beadle took it up two gears on offense, scoring 12 points in the third quarter to help the Raptors create some separation between themselves and the Lions. They led, 27-17, at the end of the third quarter.
The Lions could not get their offense going as the Raptors took game one of the best-of-three series.
Shaniyah Munroe led the Lions with 12 points.
Royals 40, Sharks 35
This game was close throughout as both teams traded leads in the game. The Royals’ Darius Hanna came alive in the second half, scoring 14 of his 20 points.
The Sharks went into the half up 20-17, but the Royals, the five-time defending champions, showed up in the third quarter and took over. They were led by Hanna who had six points in that quarter, including the final four that put the Royals up, 28-25, heading into the fourth quarter.
Hanna picked up where he left off and dominated in the fourth quarter with eight points. The Sharks’ offense fizzled in the last minutes of the game.
Head coach of the Royals Mark Hanna, who is Darius Hanna’s father, said he was happy his team got the win and that they are looking to close out the series today. He said that his son owes him a championship, and he intends to get it.
Knights 47, Rattlers 46
The Knights played a near perfect fourth quarter as they outscored the Rattlers, 17-10, to get a comeback victory.
The game was tied at 42 points with 2:45 left in the game. The Rattlers made back-to-back layups to go up, 46-42, with less than a minute left. It looked like they had the game wrapped up.
However, the Knights turned to their marksman Brianna Hanna who had three three-pointers in the game and finished with a team-high 16 points. She faked out a Rattlers defender and made a trey from the top of the perimeter to bring her team back in the game. They trailed, 46-45, at that point.
The Knights’ defense got the ball back and their head coach Tia Rolle called a timeout, so she could draw up a play. She went to Shenell Stewart who drove down the baseline with three defenders draped on her and made a layup while being fouled. She put her team up, 47-46, but missed the free throw. The Rattlers could not get a bucket off and the Knights held on for the upset.
Stewart finished with 13 points. Shamaraja Cummings finished with 10 points in the win.
The Rattlers were led by Jada Francis who finished with a game-high 21 points. Traineia Green chipped in with 16 points.
Rattlers 58, Timberwolves 49
The Rattlers led by as much as 22 points before the Timberwolves powered back to cut into the lead. They trailed, just 46-45, when Jefferson Bethel made two free throws with just over four minutes left in the game.
Two minutes later, the Rattlers showed how deep they are by going up by a comfortable margin. They went on an 8-2 scoring run to take a 54-47 lead.
The Rattlers’ Jude Vil helped to put the final stamp on the game with a steal and a fast break layup and they went up, 58-49, with 35.7 seconds left in the game. The Timberwolves would not score the rest of the way.
The Rattlers controlled the first half, jumping out to their first double-digit lead of the game, 28-18, with 15.7 seconds left in the first half. The half ended with the Rattlers up 29-20.
In the third quarter, the Rattlers went on a 7-0 run to take a 36-20 lead. That ballooned to a 44-22 lead in short order.
Leading the way for the Rattlers was Gerrad Rolle with 13 points. James Delia and Tashon Butler chipped in with 12 points apiece in the victory.
Lavardo Saunders finished with a game-high 16 points in the loss. Xavier Thompson and Kirkwood Rolle finished with 15 and 10 points, respectively, for the Timberwolves.
The second games of all four series are set for today at the Kendal Isaacs gym.