The 2017 Bahamas National High School Basketball Championships was one to remember!
The second edition of the tournament had much more highs than lows and in the end new division champions were crowned in the Senior Boys (St. George’s Jaguars), Senior Girls (Jordan Prince William Falcons, and Family Islands (Gateway Academy Eagles).
The Bahamas Basketball Federation and Ministry of Education, Science and Technology sought to make the second annual event even bigger and better. This daily caught up with the Ministry Director of the Sports Unit, Evon Wisdom on championship night (March 6).
Wisdom, although emphasizing that the ultimate goal is the “spread the wealth” by having the nationals all over the country, said for the immediate future the nationals “could be” held in Freeport every year. The Sports Director hastened to say he did not wish to pre-empt the Government, but noted that most of the Nassau teams seem to look forward to the travel to Freeport.
“You’re looking at the possibility in my humble estimation, because of the cost of the hotels, inevitably this could be held in Grand Bahama every year. And I don’t want to pre-empt any minister or any government or anything like that.
“But I can tell you this is a hit with Nassauvians. They are always used to having people invited to them. And I’ve been impressed with how we’ve been received by this community. I think Freeport is going to be in the running for this for a very long time to come.”
The senior boys’ championship tilt between the St. George’s Jaguars and Tabernacle Falcons had the St. George’s Gymnasium packed. The Jaguars went on to win the national championship on their home floor.
Wisdom voiced that the Jaguars showed tremendous fight as they went up against the top seeded team of the tournament.
“What went through my mind was the spirit of when you’re not supposed to win something, you can win something. It was quite obvious that the young men who came out from St. George’s, as their momentum built they realized ‘wait a second we’re going to win this.’
“The second and most important thing I believe was the environment. The atmosphere played a huge role in the outcome. What I mean by that is they’re in their own gym, thousands of fans, hundreds of thousands of people watching via Internet and television and that makes you perform at a higher level. And, I just want to thank the persons that caused for this to happen,” Wisdom expressed.
For this year’s tournament, Wisdom felt took the event to a “whole new level.” A jumbo screen was erected on the St. George’s Gymnasium’s stage. Some games were carried live on television from the St. George’s Gym. The screen allowed fans and even players to see the game as it was shown on television on Our TV and ZNS.
“We noticed that a coach from the Jaguars commented about it when the guys were looking at themselves. When you look at yourself and you see what you’re doing and the environment your in, it helps you to perform a little bit better. At the end of the day this is what can be done if we continue to invest in our young people. And I think once we continue to invest in them great things can happen.
“I am almost speechless now because not only is this a storybook ending but everything went the way I thought it would go and that is what the nationals is about. I only see great, great, great things for this. Freeport has been an excellent host.”
There are some who suggest that teams from the Family Islands should compete among the teams from Grand Bahama and New Providence to give the tournament a true “nationals feel.”
Wisdom acknowledged that the concept makes for a welcomed debate but voiced that it possibly would not be in the Family Island schools’ best interest. He also added that it’s uplifting for the Family Island teams to have a national championship of their own to play for.
“It’s absolutely unfair to have a school populated at 300-500 children to play a school with 900 or 1,800 children. It’s just unfair because you’re not going to get the outreach in terms of all of the talent that you want.
“I believe the Family Island Tourney is the most important one in terms of a development of aspiring athletes. When they (Gateway Eagles out of Bimini) were up there, they were enjoying that moment. They have never been national champions on a stage this big. It happened this time.”
A revision of the format is coming, but Wisdom informed the present situation works despite the cost that goes into the tournament. He stressed that the goal is to make the tournament better each year.
“We like the format. It’s expensive but we believe for the development of basketball it is worth it, especially high school basketball,” he concluded.
Published Monday, March, 13, 2017