Sunland Stingers guards’ Andre Farquharson (#2) and Tamais Rolle (#4) combined for 29 points to lead their team to a 52-42 win over the Jack Hayward High Wildcats in the opening game of the GB Secondary Schools Athletic Association (GBSSAA) Senior Boys Tip-Off Basketball Classic.
It was 24 minutes of fast paced action took place at the St. Georges gym.
In the first two minutes Stingers’ coach Marco Cooper was forced to call a timeout to calm his team down, as it appeared both teams were overcome by opening game nerves.
But out of the timeout, Farquharson and Rolle went on a 6-0 run converting on turnovers by the Wildcats.
However, the running game by both teams had the Stingers’ big men getting into foul trouble early, sending the Wildcats’ Angelo watson to the line.
Watson made his trip to the charity line count and got his team on the scoreboard (6-3 in favor of Sunland) on a three point play opportunity.
The first period would end with the Stingers leading 6-3.
Back on the court for before heading into the halftime the running game would continue for both side and so would the turnovers for the Wildcats.
While the Stingers were also getting into penalty trouble, they also were making the Wildcats mistake work in their favor, and there was no one to shut down Farquharson and Rolle (the two smallest men on the court).
The Wildcats would tie the score some three times – 7-7; 9-9; 14-14 - in the second period, but the Rolle off of assists by teammates closed out the first half 22-18 for the Stingers.
“I expect for us to compete,”?said Coach Cooper, in an interview prior to the opening buzzer. “That’s the biggest thing that I’ve been stressing during practices.
“I feel like once we compete, give it our all the chips will fall where they’re suppose to be.”
And the Stingers competed, leaving the chips to fall in their favor.
Into the third period Wildcats’ Baltrin Beckles (#24) and Denero Seide (#5) became the “spark plugs” for their team combing for 19 points.
Together with Watson and blocks by the Wildcats’ centers, the Wildcats’ trio were making frequent trips to the charity line; and they were making their shots count.
With two minutes left in the third, the Wildcats contributing and Watson hitting a three from the arch the ‘Cats were within striking distance 32-30.
However, Rolle and Farquharson would not be denied this opening game win.
The small guards would sneak in, stealing the ball and converting (eight points off steals) at their end of the court.
Together the duo had five steals.
The Stingers would pull ahead 41-32 to close the third.
In the final period the Wildcats’ Cadwell Cooper (#20) made his presence felt contributing six points, while breaking through the Stingers defenders.
But again the Wildcats had no answer for Rolle, who continued to “battle” until the very last buzzer.
This one is in the books – Stingers 1 win, Wildcats 1 loss.
This win was a team effort, as Coach Cooper said before the game. “One of the things I told them is that we don’t have no star player and in order for us to win, we are going to have to rely on each other and that begins with me.
“I hold them accountable for a lot of stuff and they hold me accountable for a lot of stuff, so it’s a team effort.”
Questioned about first game jitters, Coach Cooper said, “I love it ... I told the guys everybody comes to see the first game, so let’s set the tone from the jump.”
Wildcats’ head coach Desmond Hall first day on the job may not have come with a win, but he got to see how his team worked together and what they would contribute going forward.
“We have a lot of young kids that’s just joining the program, so in terms of our depth at the senior level there are about three players returning.
“But, I just want the kids to come out, give their best and play as hard as they can,” said Hall.
Wildcats Top Scorers
Angelo Watson - 6 points
Denero Siede - 7 points
Barltrin Beckles - 12 points
Cadwell Cooper - 6 points
Sunland Top Scorers
Andre Farquharson - 19 points
Tamais Rolle - 10 points
T. Saunders - 7 points
D. Laing - 4 points