Three national champions were crowned last night in Grand Bahama, as the High School Basketball Nationals continued at the St. George’s Gymnasium.
In senior boys Division I play, Tabernacle Baptist earned its first national title, cruising to a 59-44 win over Sir Jack Hayward. Desmond Butler led the Falcons with 13 points and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The Falcons led by just three headed into halftime but used a 7-0 run at the start of the third to go up double digits, where it stayed the remainder of the game.
Alfredo Brown also had 13 in the win for Tabernacle and went 4-for-9 from long distance. Joshua Dames had nine points and eight rebounds off the bench and Shyrone Kemp grabbed 17 rebounds for the Falcons.
Tremaine Ferguson led the Wildcats with nine, and McKell Bethel finished with eight.
Tabernacle was the only Division I team to go undefeated in the tournament, winning every game by 10 points or more.
“This was really a great win, and truly a great way to end the school year,” said Falcons coach Kevin Clarke.
“Our team really fought hard all season and we can now truly say that we are the best team. I have the best players in the country and I say that without fear of contradiction. We started off slow, but just like all of our other games, we picked it up in the second half and kept it rolling.”
In the Family Island division, Gateway Christian Academy out of Bimini won its second straight national title. The Eagles knocked off Agape Christian out of Abaco 73-59. Gateway led by double digits throughout the majority of the game, and behind Bradley Lightbourne, went up by as much as 17 in the fourth.
Lightbourne finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds and was named division MVP. Densil Jones added 15 in the win, and Leroy Leslie chipped in with 11.
Like the Falcons, the Eagles also went undefeated over the course of the three-day tournament.
“We had an incredible season down in Bimini,” said Gateway coach Hilbert Rolle Jr.
“We went over to Florida and contested for a championship earlier this year, and we came here saying we had to win something.”
Oswald Meadows had 21 points, 14 rebounds and four assists for Agape.
And in senior girls play, Doris Johnson avenged last year’s loss to Prince William. Behind eight points and 25 rebounds from Briontae Riley, the Mystic Marlins pulled off a 47-39 win in Freeport. For her effort, Riley earned MVP honors and was also named as the top defensive player in the division.
Doris Johnson jumped out to an 8-0 run and went up by as much as 14 in the first quarter. Prince William struggled to find consistent offense in the loss, as team captains Robynn Porter and Judy Forbes combined for just 11 points on 4-for-19 shooting from the field.
“I feel like I haven’t slept since we lost to Prince William at last year’s nationals,” said Marlins coach Kevon Spence.
“It was a total team effort and I’m proud of the way the girls reacted to the pressure of playing this kind of game on the big stage. All praise to God for allowing us to be here and for allowing us to pull off this win. We really came out and played like we wanted this one and I’m proud that the girls were able to hold them off when they made a run.”
Falcons top-scorer Brianna Stevens went just 3-for-13 from the field, finishing with seven in the loss.