Linden Technical Institute pulled off an overtime win to dethrone the defending champions, Kwakwani Secondary on Sunday to claim the Division One title of the National Schools’ Basketball Festival at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
While both teams came from the Linden ‘Big Ten” Conference which has seen them clash before their final showdown they still managed to generate a buzz in the crowd at the Youth Basketball Guyana (YBG) and the National Sports Commission (NSC)-organized event.
Both teams came out of the gates firing on all cylinders as they matched each other with shots from beyond the ark in the early minutes of the game before Kwakwani switched to man-to-man defence in order to guard their opponents a bit closer than the 3-2 zone defence would allow.
Kwakwani’s defensive switch proved to be ineffective as Linden Technical Institute’s (LTI) guard, Marlon Pollydore used the floor spacing provided by Kwakwani’s man-to-man defence to drive the lane and score which ended the first half 40-35 in favour of LTI.
Coming out of the break both teams exchanged the lead as Kwakwani began playing with a sense of urgency and started their inside attack on LTI’s defence while LTI’s offence began to struggle.
However, Pollydore’s leadership skills and court vision came to the fore as he began to take over the game and tied it up on 60 with less than a minute to play.
After a few scrappy possessions Kwakwani scored with 24.2s left on the clock but lapsed defensively to allow Pollydore to score a fast break lay-up that saw the game end at regulation time knotted on 62.
In overtime it is said that the team that scores first usually wins and LTI bore this out by scoring the first basket in overtime and seeing it through to a 75-66 victory and their third title in the Festival.
Pollydore ended on 30 points and 7 rebounds while Joel Webster contributed a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Dominique Douglas and Elvis Thompson scored 21 and 17 points for Kwakwani Secondary.
The Division Two final was also an intriguing encounter as New Amsterdam Multilateral withstood a late surge from Trust College to win the Division Two title 45-43.
Dominic Vincente almost created the biggest comeback win in the tournament as NA Multilateral had a fifteen point lead in the second half and looked like they had the title comfortably in their grasp before Vincente’s scoring engine clicked to tie the game at 43-43 with 24s left.
However, Vincente’s effort was spoilt by his own teammate as the Trust College player chose to try to win the game for the team by driving the ball and missing which allowed NA Multilateral to score a fast break deuce and end the game with a two-point lead. Vincente ended with 23 points, scoring 15 of them in the second half while he grabbed 8 rebounds and gathered 6 steals.
The under-16 final proved more fruitful for the Kwakwani supporters as Kwakwani Junior came from behind to defeat Plaisance Jr. 55-48 for the under-16 title
While Nduka Horatio and Wesley Forde both scored double-doubles of 19 points, 10 rebounds and 16 points, 24 rebounds it was not enough to withstand a total team effort by Kwakwani.
Eon Meredith ended with 15 points for Kwakwani while Leonard Primo scored 8 and collected 10 rebounds.
Bobby’s ASP Girls claimed the inaugural girl’s title in the tournament as they gained a walkover against Marian Academy Girls.
LTI later returned to walk away with the Champion of Champions trophy after defeating New Amsterdam Multilateral 73-35 in the bragging rights match-up.
The Division One champs had no problems in putting away the Division Two champs to claim the Port Mourant Training Centre-crafted trophy sponsored by the Haynes Foundation.
Geoffrey Larose scored 28 points and collected 13 rebounds as Marlon Pollydore took a lesser role in the team’s offensive but contributed 12 points to the win.
Ryan Caesal scored 15 points while Mikhail Durant contributed 10 points to the blow-out loss for NA Multilateral.
The night ended with the official closing ceremony as the Director of Sport, Neil Kumar congratulated the players on their achievements.