Kolij Lions took care of business and are the 2017 BABA Summer Jam Under-16 Champions.
The tournament’s Most Valuable Player honour was awarded to Brandon Ruck. He finished with 29 points in the championship game.
KINGS OF THE COURT
THE Kolij Lions declared themselves kings of the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Summer Jam Under-16 jungle when they roared their way to the championship with a victory over the NexGen Green Monkeys 74-57.
The tournament came to an end with the finals between two well-practised teams – the Lions in their maroon and gold and the Monkeys in green.
The Barbados Community College gym was packed with supporters of the competition and the youngsters did not disappoint.
Kolij jumped the Monkeys with a full court press from the beginning of the game and the constant pressure on the ball was enough to take the tournament debutants out of their usual confident style of play. On the other end the Lions were out and gunning, compliments Brandon Ruck. The young lion was hot early with 3 treys in the first quarter on his way to 11 points in the period, which propelled his team to a 25-10 lead.
The second quarter was a tough one for Ruck, with a couple turnovers which NexGen turned into points. Kurt Lambert, who scored 6 consecutive points in the second, started the run which saw the Monkeys outscore the opponents 16-10, which cut the lead to 9, 35-26, at the half.
Ruck was not finished however and continued to attack the basket whenever the lane presented itself. He was having good help in the paint by Miguel Gibson and from Simeon Maynard, who was handling the ball for Kolij. Lambert was still scoring and added 7 points to his team’s total, but Ruck was even better, hitting a couple long range bombs on his way to 10 points in the quarter.
The Monkeys were down 11 with one quarter to play and though they put a couple plays together, a consistent press by Kolij put the Monkeys in a defensive mentality, even though they were on offence. Confidence was fully on Kolij’s side while NexGen were having trouble getting the ball past half court. Along with that, they still could not find a way to wrangle Ruck from laying claim to the game. He added another 6 points in the last quarter to finish with 29 points on the night, which earned him, along with his overall performance in the competition, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player honour.
Maynard scored 10 points in the game, matched by Gibson while Chikosi Boardi had 7. The combination of scoring from those four along with a complete hustle effort by the team on the defensive end throughout the game was all that was needed to take them to the 17-point victory. Tre Ward and Kurt Lambert were the main scorers for the NexGen ballers with 20 and 19 points respectively.
Coach of the Kolij Lions, Dario McCollin, was all smiles after receiving the championship trophy. He stated that the title was special in relation to beating Pinelands in the semi-finals and then the team coming together in the finals to win it all. Amazingly, Kolij had no intention of playing in the Under-16 competition, but the players asked to compete and with the addition of Gibson and Ruck, they took the competition by storm, confident in their craft.
“We knew that NexGen had good shooters on the team, but we knew that we were stronger, faster and more athletic and we used that.”
McCollin also commended the other youth programmes in the competition, namely Pinelands and NexGen, but the Lions will be looking to double up the hardware as they will also be taking part in Summer Jam Under-19 slated to tip off next week.