THE STORIES of Success Basketball Academy won the 2018 Barry Stewart Basketball League Under-19 Championship after defeating the Maloney Pacers 83-80 in the division final on Saturday, at the Jean Pierre Complex, Mucurapo.
Ahkeel Boyd led the scoring for SOS, notching a team-high 27 points. Boyd proved a handful for his opponents, scoring from 3-point range, getting to the rim with ease, and calmly dispatched shots from the free-throw line.
Jamal Prince added 17 points, and 16-year-old team captain Nickolai Mills netted 16 points of his own. With Boyd fouling out late in the second period, Mills’ play brought the game home for SOS. The young point guard took great care of the ball in possession, as he found gaps in the Pacers defence, and finished strongly at the rim.
Timothy Thompson was a dominant force in the paint for Pacers, hitting a game-high 30 points that kept his team in the game. Yannick Tappin offered 18 points, and Shakiel Bertrand had 13, but SOS did enough to resist Pacers strong challenge.
Tappin attempted a game tying three with 4.1 seconds remaining, but the failed attempt meant SOS clinched victory and earned the right to take the title back to the teams’ shared community of Maloney.
SOS Basketball Academy’s coach Kern George lauded his squad’s composure and credited their off-court support as central to securing the title.
“They performed exceptionally well in a high intensity game and held their nerve at the most crucial times in the match. That, and the unbelievable support provided by Starlite (pharmacy), our friends and family, and a dedicated staff working behind the scenes .That is what made all the difference.”
With the victory over Pacers, SOS finished the season unbeaten, recording wins against New Age Lions, Detour Shak Attack, Spartans TT, Port of Spain Trailblazers, Sangre Grande All Stars, Valencia Heat, and Matthew Pierre Basketball Academy.
While celebrating the team’s success, the young coach and his players haven’t lost focus of the need for improvement. George said, “We’re delighted with the win, but we know there’s a great deal of work ahead. After the game we challenged each other to be better as individuals and as an organisation by this time next year, and we’re we’ll be going hard to make that a reality.”