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Ellerslie U-16 champs

Justin Marville

Ellerslie U-16 champs

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LOOKS LIKE the resurgence didn’t end with their seniors.
Two seasons after ending a 17-year title drought, Ellerslie were back at it again, only this time in the Under-16s, having capped an unbeaten season via Tuesday’s 46-28 victory over Harrison College in the final of the Co-operators General Insurance Schools’ Basketball tournament at the Wildey Gym.
It was the second championship in three years for the sport’s new school powers, who gave an inkling of a possible return to prominence two years ago after taking the Under-19 crown for the first time since 1995.
But there was no hint this time, rather a huge statement, with Most Valuable Player Jamali Holder providing the perfect punctuation mark to Ellerslie’s dominance by sparking a furious 15-2 finish to the final.
This wasn’t for a lack of competition either, as “Kolij” valiantly fought back (28-18) to turn the contest into a tight two-possession game (31-26) with five minutes left.
However, Ellerslie’s “big man” came up even bigger when it mattered most, having split a pair of free throws and then converting two lay-ups as the start to the game-changing run.
Yet his real impact was felt most at the other end, with the 6’4” pogo stick routinely turning back shots in the paint that directly resulted in fast-break lay-ups for Jewsahwn Alleyne and Kiniah Spence.
If that wasn’t enough, Holder assisted on a Delano Watson basket for good measure, before Alleyne and Nicholas Hoyte put on the finishing touches with successive jumpers.
“At that height he can handle the ball, make an outside shot, score from the free throw line, is great around the bucket and is an excellent passer so you’re going to have to come good,” said head coach Carlos Merritt.
And yet Harrison College did, at least for the game’s opening 3:14 where Holder and company were restricted to just one point behind Christian Holder’s great interior defence that sparked an 8-1 Kolij run.
Then, with point guard Raphael Howard pushing the action, Harrison College looked equally as dangerous at the other end while Jonition Fowler and Joshua Lowe filled the lanes.
But Ellerslie closed out that first quarter on an 8-2 run of their own and never looked back.
Holder finished with a game-high 15 points and Watson added ten while Fowler top-scored for Harrison College with ten points.