Bulls women basketball champs
Good things come to those who wait.
And how long have they waited!
Act II Popcorn Clapham Bulls emphatically captured their first ever women’s league title, when they trounced ten-time defending champions Mpact Station Hill Cavaliers 64-44 at the Barbados Community College (BCC) on Sunday night.
It was sweet revenge for Clapham, who had lost all three of their previous finals encounters against the Lady Cavs, with few giving them any chance of dethroning the girls from Station Hill.
But the Bulls used a decisive 15-0 run to start the third quarter, turning a one-point deficit at half-time (25-26), into a 40-26 rout with just over four minutes remaining in the period.
It was a hole from which Station Hill would never recover as Clapham took advantage of a tiring Cavaliers side, scoring the majority of their points in transition and the open floor.
A lay-up by Toni Atherley started the run, before two consecutive fast breaks from Station Hill turnovers resulted in easy lay-ups for Ruth Gill, the last of which was set up by a spectacular behind-the-back pass from Sadé Clarke.
So unstoppable was the trio of Atherley, Gill and Clarke, that they combined to score all but two of their side’s 22 points in that period, as Wanda Agard-Belgrave and the usually reliable Dana Jones all but disappeared.
Atherley led the way for the Bulls with a game-high 31 points, while Clarke and Gill each had ten points. Agard-Belgrave had 13 points and Shanna Chester scored ten.
A jump shot by the Cavs’ Rhea Holder would end the run, but a strong finish by the Bulls to end the quarter, punctuated by a baseline jumper from Atherley and two free throws by Clarke, ensured that they would hold a commanding 14 point lead (47-33) heading in to the final period.
And things would only get worse for Station Hill, as an obviously exhausted Agard-Belgrave continued to struggle, scoring just three free throws over the final ten minutes.
The Bulls’ lead grew to as much as 23 (61-38) after a Jennifer Joseph-Hackett jumper with 3:30 remaining on the clock.
And as the clock expired, the BCC was transformed into a sea of orange and black, as Clapham supporters invaded the court, holding jerseys aloft, some even shedding tears of joy.
“This has been a long time in coming,” one obviously excited supporter screamed as she ran onto the court to embrace the players.
Bull’s coach Barry Rock, who has been coaching the side for the past five years, said it was an unbelievable feeling to finally lift the cup.
“The feeling around the camp now is just euphoric. We have lost everything to Station Hill – the knockouts and the league – and it feels so good right now to be able to say that we are the champions. It’s never easy when you play against Station Hill, with the likes of Wanda and Astrid [Alleyne], because they are two very good players.”
Rock said a half-time chat with the girls reminded them of the game plan and it worked.
Despite a sombre mood in the Station Hill camp, Andrew Alleyne, coach of the losing finalists, was gracious in defeat, noting the Bulls were the better team on the day, and duly deserved to win.