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Waterford lads take Schools League basketball title

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

Waterford lads take Schools League basketball title

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COMBERMERE didn’t let this one slip.

School basketball’s league title is heading back to Waterford after Combermere survived a late comeback charge before holding on to beat Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI) 69-64 in yesterday’s Massy United Insurance final at the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

It was sweet justification for the heavy pre-season favourites, who shockingly lost the knockout final to underdogs Lodge in November.

And they very nearly let the league crown slip from their grasp, too, having squandered two double-digits leads, including an 15-point third-quarter cushion.

But “Polytechnic” called a questionable fourth-quarter timeout with the momentum in their favour, and Combermere immediately made them pay with a game-clinching 13-5 run.

Clinging to a 54-53 lead with 5:17 to play, Combermere got back to their transition play behind bulldog guard Makaari Jones, forcing the action in the open court.

Jones converted a pair of fast-break layups and assisted Tariq Inniss for another after he, David Walkes and Kiserian Adams all scored free throws to put Cawmere back up 67-58.

SJPI weren’t done just yet, though, as Joshua King and Chemar Steele had successive layups right before Rasheed Maynard was needlessly fouled on a three-point attempt.

Maynard converted two of the three to make the contest a one-possession game (67-64) with 23.1 seconds left but “Polytechnic” couldn’t get the ensuing offensive rebound.

Adams calmly knocked down two free throws to seal the deal.

It was an improbable finish to a game that looked all but over when Combermere jumped out to a 41-26 lead on ten quick points from Nicholas Hoyte to start the third quarter.

Hoyte dropped back to back triples and two floaters in succession to sandwich a huge trey from Inniss that restored a double-digit advantage Cawmere relinquished in the first half.

However, SJPI simply refused to go away, particularly Maynard and Brewster who continually bullied their way to the front of the ring for one basket after another.

Brewster scored on successive fast-break layups and another drive before Steele hit a huge trey that got them within one (54-53) with 5:17 remaining.

It was all too reminiscent of their lightning fast 12-2 start that saw SJPI take Combermere out of transition and keep the pre-season favourites to just one basket in the game’s first five minutes.

But the Waterford lads responded in kind, with Adams, Jones and Walkes pushing the ball as part of a whirlwind run of 18 unanswered points.

Bottling up Maynard and Brewster at one end, Combermere transformed every ensuing rebound and turnover into a fast-break basket of some kind behind the terrific trio.

That initial 12-2 deficit soon became a 28-14 advantage before Brewster and Steele eventually stopped the bleeding with three layups to get SJPI within eight (30-22) by half-time.

Adams finished with 18 points, Walkes 16 and Jones 12, while Hoyte and Inniss each scored ten.

For the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, Brewster led all scorers with 27 points while Maynard got 25. (JM)