Hugh title goes to Sunland!

 Home|Sports|Hugh title goes to Sunland!Sports

Sheldon LongleySend an emailFebruary 28, 2023 927 4 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 The Sunland Baptist Stingers repeated as Hugh Campbell basketball champions on Monday night, defeating the C.I. Gibson Rattlers, 64-52, in the championship game. TORRELL GLINTON

The Sunland Baptist Stingers knew that they would have to play stellar defense if they wanted to repeat as Hugh Campbell champions on Monday night, and they did just that, but few expected the kind of masterpiece they exhibited in shocking the favored C.I. Gibson Rattlers.

In a complete wire-to-wire domination, the Stingers rolled past the Rattlers, 64-52, to win their second straight Hugh Campbell Basketball Championship at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium on Monday night.

The way the Stingers started the game, set the tone throughout as the Rattlers struggled to get anything going offensively. C.I. went seven minutes without a field goal at the start of the game and ended the first quarter a woeful 1-for-15 from the field. The Stingers struggled offensively as well, but they threw down the gauntlet early. They were there to stifle any offensive attack from the Rattlers for 32 minutes, and score when they needed to, in order to come out on top.

The first quarter ended 11-6 in favor of the Stingers and much of the same defensive intensity continued in the second quarter and throughout the game. The bewildered Rattlers shot just 20-for-74 from the floor for the game, making 27 percent of their shots, including knocking down just one three-point shot in 18 attempts on the night. Starting point guard James Delia, in particular, struggled, going 0-for-9 from three-point range.

Still, the Rattlers found themselves down just 28-22 at the half and within striking distance in the fourth.

“Our identity is defense. We know that we have guys who could score multiple ways on the floor, but the strategy is always to come out and be aggressive defensively. We were able to get multiple stops tonight and that was the key in the game,” said Stingers Head Coach Jay Philippe.

They won the title in 2020, knocking off the C.C. Sweeting Cobras in the championship game, and then the tournament was halted for two years due to the threat of COVID-19. Both the C.I. Gibson Rattlers and perennial champions Tabernacle Baptist Falcons – who defeated the Stingers for the Grand Bahama Secondary Schools Athletic Association (GBSSAA) senior boys title this year – missed that Hugh Campbell tournament in 2020. With the classic back after the hiatus, the Stingers picked up where they left off.

“A lot of persons said 2020 was a fluke because C.I. wasn’t there and Tabernacle wasn’t there, so we had a point to prove,” said Philippe. “We wanted to come out here and show the country that we are an elite basketball program and we’re going to be good for a long time.”

The Stingers didn’t shoot the ball particularly well either on Monday, but their defense was so good that it set the tone for the game. They were 23-for-65 from the field offensively, shooting just 35.4 percent for the game. They were just 3-for-21 from three-point range.

“You can’t be missing almost 30 layups, and make one jump shot, and expect to come out on top,” said Rattlers Head Coach Kevin ‘KJ’ Johnson. “They came out more prepared than us and they deserved to win. They’re true champions. At the end of the day, we just didn’t play Rattlers basketball, on both sides of the floor. The offense was off, but defensively we didn’t do what we needed to do to stay in the game. Sunland wanted it more and they came out on top.”

After the Stingers built a 15-6 lead early, the closest the Rattlers got for the rest of the first half was three points, 19-16. Highlighted by a three-point shot from Tianno Roberts, his only trey of the game, the Stingers scored seven in a row to open their first double-digit lead of the game at 26-16. They went on to lead 28-22 at the half.

The Stingers kept the pressure on in the third quarter, building the lead to as much as 14 points, 43-29, before settling for a 45-35 advantage after three. The closest the Rattlers got in the fourth quarter was seven points. Turnovers and missed shots haunted them and they just couldn’t build any consistent momentum.

Roberts scored 19 points and added six rebounds and four steals for the Stingers. Donnell Basden contributed 12 points, a game-high 17 rebounds and added six block shots. Their captain Jordan Saunders added 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Delia paced the Rattlers with 19 points and added eight rebounds. Dieunel Joseph added 15 points and 11 rebounds and Tashon Butler shook off a poor shooting performance in the first half to finish with 12 points. Head Coach Johnson said he’s only losing four players so he’s optimistic about the squad he has coming back next year.

“We wanted to keep James (Delia) out the paint and that worked for us,” said Stingers Head Coach Philippe. “We know that he (Delia) is a very smart, aggressive guard and we wanted to force other guys to beat us. We did a great job of taking him out of the game and that worked for us.”

Philippe said they’re proud of the program and winning culture they have established at Sunland and are looking for even greener pastures in the future. 

“We’re just so happy. This win means a lot for Grand Bahama,” said Philippe. “We just sat in the zone defense all night and forced them to beat us with jump shots. We knew that would be hard for them to do. They weren’t able to make shots and we came out victorious. These guys put in time every day, just consistent practicing. It paid off and I’m so proud of them.”

In winning their second straight title and second in school history, the Stingers denied the Rattlers a sixth Hugh Campbell championship. The Rattlers remain tied with the Cobras and the Catholic High Crusaders with five Hugh Campbell titles. The Tabernacle Baptist Falcons have won the most titles in tournament history, with eight.

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *