KC defy odds to lift Under-19 Basketball title

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Kingston College (KC) assistant  coach Winston Harvey, admitted in his post game interview that his boys had surpassed all expectations in lifting the ISSA/KFC Southern Conference Basketball title when they defeated Wolmer's Boys School in game 2 of their best of three finals on Monday night to win the series 2-0.


Wolmer's were the overwhelming favourites going into the finals, having spanked KC by 14 points in their regular season encounter. In game one, played last week Thursday, KC had managed to stave off a brave effort from the maroon and gold team to take a 1-0 lead.


Game two was expected to be a close and exciting affair, and so it was all the way up until the final minute of the game.


A cagey first quarter saw both teams battling for control as one team fought off elimination while the other was fighting desperately for the crown. Brian Cameron, the big man for Wolmer's, led his team valiantly but when he picked up his second foul just before the end of the quarter he had to be substituted by their other big man Kurt Daley.


Almost unnoticed, KC had built up a cushion with the quarter ending 13-7.


Unlike game one, where it was all about Clifton Jean and Malik Pusey, there was an all around effort for the 'Purples' in game two. Shemar Brown-Wright did a good job inside for his team early on, battling bravely against the bigger Daley and Kadeem O'Sullivan chipped in with valuable points and rebounds to help establish the KC lead.


KC managed to build on their 6 point first quarter lead, extending the game to ten points at 25-15. Wolmer's reacted by bringing back Cameron and left Daley in the game. The presence of their 'Twin Towers' and the blocking of the driving lanes forced the KC players, Pusey and Jean especially to settle for jump shots.


The shots were not falling for KC from the outside and Wolmer's capitalised by scoring two unanswered baskets to cut the lead to 25-19 just before half time. With Cameron struggling with foul trouble after picking up his third it was left to Akeem Parchment to carry the scoring for Wolmer's.


The tension started building in the stands and both sets of supporters got in the action. The screams and cheers from the Wolmer's girls, who came out in numbers to support their brothers, were soon drowned out by the louder boys from KC who chanted the school motto with gusto.


Pusey scored the last points of the half when he finally managed to break down the Wolmer's defence and got in for a lay-up.


KC led 27-19 at half time thanks to 10 points from Pusey and 5 points each from Jean, O'Sullivan and Daniel Martillier.


For Wolmer's, Parchment had 8 points while Daley contributed 6. The luckless Cameron had three fouls and zero points with 20 minutes left to play in this vital encounter.


KC  managed to build up a ten point lead at 33-23 early in the third quarter only to see Wolmer's claw it back to six at 33-27. Another push by the 'Purples' saw them regain the ten point lead at 37-27 before another push took the score to 41-29. Wolmer's scored the last three points of the half to reduce the deficit to nine points, but just as they had done all game, KC managed to keep Wolmer's at arm's length once more.


Ten minutes left, nine points separating the two teams, the cheers loud, the intensity high. The stage was set for a grand finale. 


Pusey opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a perfect jump shot and the sixth formers in their white shirts with their purple and white ties started singing, "Wolmer's a guh home inna body bag". The Wolmer's fans responded with their own cheers and the stadium was rocking.


With just over six minutes left to play KC led by ten points at 45-35 but Pusey picked up his fourth foul and had to go to the bench. Wolmer's picked up their defensive intensity, swarming the KC players on offense forcing them to take the long range jumpers that were just not falling. The Heroes Circle Boys capitalized and stormed back into the game closing the gap to six at 45-39 following back to back turnovers by KC.


The fans were in a frenzied state at this point. Wolmer's sensed a great comeback, but KC was defiant. Parchment was doing all he could to spur the Wolmer's offence with timely baskets, while the 'Twin Towers' did their job on defence.


The clock was winding down and with only 3:58 left in the game, KC made their last roll of the dice by reintroducing their man of the moment Pusey, who ominously, had a four fouls.


The calculated risk proved to be the correct one as out of nowhere KC were ahead again by ten points at 49-39 and 51-41. Wolmer's got desperate as the game slipped away and Cameron fouled out while trying for a rebound. That signaled the end of the challenge from the Maroon and Gold as KC coasted home with the final score being 59-41. 


Pusey who was voted Most Valuable Player, finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals while Jean had 15 points and  15 rebounds.


KC coach, Winston Harvey said, "We went over the things that went wrong in game one and we fixed it tonight. The boys executed well and we were able to get the result and win the championships. We had to bring back Malik when we did because too many mistakes were being made out on the floor which was letting Wolmer's back in the game. We knew he would be playing with four fouls but the move paid off. Sometimes you just have to be brave."


It was the first time in four years that Kingston College was winning the competition.


Photo: Malik Pusey