Rattlers, Raptors claim GSSSA titles

|Sports|Rattlers, Raptors claim GSSSA titlesSports

Simba FrenchSend an emailFebruary 17, 2023 155 5 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 The C.I. Gibson Rattlers senior boys won the GSSSA basketball title on Thursday, finishing off the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves in a two-game sweep. Simba French

The C.I. Gibson Rattlers senior boys and the C.H. Reeves Raptors junior girls swept their way to Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) titles, winning their respective best-of-three basketball championships at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium yesterday. The Rattlers senior girls and the S.C. McPherson Sharks junior boys evened their series at a game apiece to force a decisive third game for each series.

In the senior boys division, the Rattlers made light work of the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves, powering their way to a 78-61 victory. The Raptors junior girls were too much for the H.O. Nash Lions as they dominated that game, winning 40-12 to take down the defending champions. The Rattlers’ senior girls team held off the C.R. Walker Knights, 47-40, to live to see another day. The Sharks did the same in the junior boys division, taking down the five-time defending champions, the D.W. Davis Royals, 46-41, to extend that series.

Game three for the two remaining series starts today at 5 p.m. at the same venue.

Junior Girls

Raptors 40, Lions 12

The Raptors used a 10-2 second quarter advantage to put away the game. They led 20-9 at the half. The third quarter belonged to the Raptors as their defense held the Lions without a score for that entire six minutes. The Raptors scored 12 points in that quarter and they were just six minutes away from dethroning the Lions, leading 32-9. They continued to run away from the Lions in the fourth quarter.

Head Coach for the Raptors Varel Davis said that her team went out there and played with heart.

“My girls came out today and executed what I asked of them. Hats off to the Lions because they were the defending champions and they did an excellent job,” Davis said.

Riccara Beadle, the Most Valuable Player (MVP), led the Raptors with 22 points. Her teammate, Tajhanique Morley, chipped in with 11 points.

Junior Boys

Sharks 46, Royals 41

The Sharks got off to a strong start, going up 10-5 at the end of the first quarter. They were working hard, fighting to see another day to dethrone the Royals. In the end, they extended their series to a third and final game.

The Sharks kept the pressure on the Royals throughout. Atl the end of the third quarter, they led 39-29.

The Royals cut into the lead and got within one on a Darius Hanna’s shot. The Sharks led 42-41 at that point, with just under two minutes left.

A quick 4-0 scoring run by the Sharks put them up 46-41 with 38 seconds left in the game. The Sharks maintained possession of the ball as time expired.

Head Coach of the Sharks LaCricia Swain was happy that they got to extend the series and is looking to see her team play with intensity today.

“My team played a phenomenal game yesterday (Wednesday) and they came out and showed heart today (Thursday). Once we played like we did on Wednesday, with the same intensity and stronger, we were going to be back for Game Three and that is what happened,” Swain said.

Kami Davis and LaQuare Collins scored 12 points each for the Sharks.

Hanna scored 18 points for the Royals.

Senior Girls

Rattlers 47, Knights 40

The Rattlers came out with one goal in mind – push the series to a decisive Game Three. They did just that with some strong defense. They led 16-6 at the end of the first quarter, closing it out a 16-1 scoring run.

The Rattlers went up 30-13 at the half.

With the Knights looking to get a sweep, they found a rhythm and scored 14 points in the third quarter to turn it to a respectable game. That period ended 37-27 in favor of the Rattlers.

The Knights got the game down to four points in the fourth quarter, with 45.7 seconds left, on a Kaiesha Johnson. The Rattlers led 44-40 at that point. The Knights could not buy a bucket in the remaining seconds of the game and the Rattlers closed it out with a win.

Head Coach for the Rattlers Kevin ‘KJ’ Johnson said that defense was the key in the win.

“We came out and played the type of defense that we should have played in the first game. We rebounded the ball well. We were able to contain their best players as best as we could have,” Johnson said.

The Rattlers were led by Jada Francis with 20 points. Phillipa Ferguson scored 17 points in the win.

Shenell Stewart led the Knights with 16 points in the loss.

Johnson is looking to duplicate last night’s play today.

Senior Boys

Rattlers 78, Timberwolves 61

The Rattlers jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead in the first quarter and did not look back as they led the game wire-to-wire.

Head Coach for the Rattlers Kevin ‘KJ’ Johnson had three years to wait to get the best of Timberwolves’ Head Coach Denycko Bowles – then head coach of the 2020 champions Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins – due to the threat of COVID-19.

“This feels very good,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, Anatol Rodgers is a very resilient team. They fought extremely hard but my boys worked hard and they are very resilient as well. They wanted it more.They worked hard all summer, and throughout COVID, they were putting in work at home. They wanted it more and they deserved the win.”

After the first quarter, the Rattlers were up 23-10. The Timberwolves tried to put up a fight in the second quarter but the Rattlers ended the half up 34-26. In Game One, the Rattlers went up by 22 points before the Timberwolves battled back and brought it to within two points. Johnson was not allowing that last night.

“We allowed them to get back into the game Wednesday night and we didn’t want it to happen again. Basketball is a game that bounces funny sometimes. We were prepared tonight to not let them back into the game. We kept the fire burning tonight in terms of making some baskets,” said Johnson.

The Rattlers kept up the intensity heading into the fourth quarter, leading 50-39. Led by Most Valuable Player (MV) James Delia, the Rattlers pulled away in the fourth quarter. Delia scored 11 of his game-high 25 points in that period.

“I just wanted to execute the plays and get the team a win,” Delia said. “I did not execute my shots like I wanted to, but we got the team win. It feels good to win the MVP but I was not looking forward to it, I just wanted us to win.”

Tashon Butler finished with 21 points for the Rattlers. 

Leading the way for the Timberwolves was Jefferson Bethel with 14 points.

The Rattlers did not play in the Hugh Campbell Tournament that was last held in 2020. This year, they are playing in the prestigious senior boys tournament.

“That is our next quest and nationals is after that if they have it. We are going to keep pushing to achieve those goals and hopefully we get to do those things,” Johnson said.

Delia, who is now in grade 12, did not get a chance to play in GSSSA basketball competition prior to this season because of COVID-19. Like his coach he is looking to win the treble.

Johnson said his team will get today and tomorrow off and will be back at it preparing for Hugh Campbell on Sunday. The tournament starts on Monday.


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