Teary-eyed Calabar High basketball coach praises repeat all-island champions
It was an emotional night for Calabar High School's coach, Ludlow Barker, after watching his team hold off Ardenne High to win back-to-back Under-19 ISSA National Basketball Championship titles, following a 62-52 overtime win at the G.C. Foster College auditorium on Tuesday evening.
Led by a game-high 28 points from MVP Maliek McCarthy and 13 points from Jevaun Faulder, Calabar High shrugged off a fourth-quarter surge from the Basil Barrett-coached Ardenne before going on to dominate overtime 12-4.
Justin Rhoden was Ardenne's top scorer with 15 points.
However, in his post-match interview, Calabar High's coach, Barker, could not restrain the tears as emotions overwhelmed him while he piled praises on his players for their sacrifice on the road to winning back-to-back Southern Conference and national championship honours.
"I know these players," said a tearful Barker. "When they commit to do the work, they come up trumps. I believe in them; they believe in me. I just love these players. I love coaching the school because they have heart and soul.
TOP COACH, PLAYERS
"They (players) say they have a top coach, but I say I have top players - the greatest players in the world - and I'd never exchange them for anything," he stated.
"Winning back-to-back South Conference titles was going to be tough, but winning back-to-back all-island was going to be harder. We had to have a lot of self-discipline and play good defence."
After an evenly contested first quarter (12-12), Calabar High captured the second period 11-7 to lead 23-19 at half-time. They continued to hold the ascendancy after taking the third quarter 17-14, but in the final quarter, Ardenne upped their game a couple of notches and Calabar High could find no answer as the Basil Barrett-coached team were hitting shots from all angles and range. In the final analysis, Ardenne High won the period 15-8 to be tied 48-48 at the final whistle.
However, in overtime, Ardenne did not know what hit them as Calabar High came out firing and easily captured the period 12-4 for a convincing win.
"My team held its nerve when it went to overtime. They were still feeling good about themselves even though they gave up the lead," Barker admitted. "We didn't lose concentration. We stuck to the game plan and we supported each other, and defensively, we did an excellent job. So to repeat at this level is quite a joy."
In the junior final, St George's College avenged their Southern Conference final defeat to St Catherine High with a 54-47 win.
Jordon Gilles with 17 points and Nathan Reid (10 points) were the top scorers for St George's. Shevran Williams was St Catherine's top scorer with 13 points.