Posted: Friday, March 10, 2023. 1:11 pm CST.
By Glenn Tillett: “Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen” to quote the biblical David on learning of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan in the battle of Israel and the Philistines. In just 24 hours the Belize City co-leaders of the 2023 BEBL tournament were shocked by teams from Orange Walk and Dangriga. Just like that the air is gone – poof! from the balloon of a supposedly super team and an all-Belize City final.
It is arguable that if Belmopan had played and beaten San Pedro in the opener just perhaps, we could’ve ended up with a 4-way tie atop the table. If you like your eggs scrambled this omelette of a tournament may just be for you.
It is inarguable though, that Griga, Orange Walk, and Belmopan are surging. Western Ballaz after being beset by a spate of injuries is competitive again, and San Pedro Tiger Sharks will finally, it seems begin to start playing at home after being on the road and even off the court for the first 6 games of the tournament.
Even without their big guy, Maritavius Adams, who reportedly has “passport problems”, they will be competitive if not downright hard to beat on the court at the San Pedro High School auditorium.
Last Friday night the Belize City Defenders and the Orange Walk Running Rebels traded blows for nearly the entire game with the home team having the better of most of the exchanges until halfway through the fourth quarter. There were several ties but no lead changes until a little more than a minute into the fourth quarter when the Defenders had their largest lead, 8 points 75-67, however, they were outscored 24-10 the rest of the way.
Their head coach Matthew Smiling substituted for lead guard Mykeil “Boogie” Tzul when he thought he had picked up his fourth foul and the offense sputtered with less than a minute to go and trailing by 3 points 85-88. He was unable to get back into the game and the scoring drought may’ve cost them the game.
Nigel Jones had a very stealthy but efficient game registering 23 points, 10 boards, steals and 3 blocks. Lorenzo “Lolo” Dillard led his team with 25 points, (11-14 from the line) but Orange Walk keyed on him.
The Rebels’ import James Stanback led all scorers with 30 points, but it was the play of Brian “747 Wide Body” White in the middle (20 points, 14 boards), and his substitutes, the equally wide-bodied “Bruise Brothers” Elvis Olivera and Matthew Young that proved the difference for an ecstatic Troy Gabb, Jr.
The Rebels guards, Bryan Hudson (4 fouls, 3 turnovers, 0 points in less than 5 minutes) and Tyron Hall (4 fouls, 5 turnovers but 17 points), and Dedron Baptist (2 fouls, 3 points in 7:34 minutes), effectively harassed and contained Dillard.
It is a telling stat that both the Defenders and the Rebels could only muster 11 and 10 assists respectively, on 31 and 33 baskets.
I risked further aggravating an injured left ankle by traveling by bus to Griga Saturday night, to witness the Benny’s Hurricanes challenging Griga Dream Ballers at the Russel Chiste Garcia auditorium. Griga has yet to lose at home and a SRO crowd soon had the venue packed before tip-off, and easily drowned out the flutes and horns of the two busloads of fans that had made the trip from Belize City.
Griga also unveiled their latest import Dominic Woodson who is huge, likely the largest player in the league at this point, and his impact was immediate. He is undoubtedly fundamentally sound, recording the game’s first basket, first rebound, and first assist.
Midway through the first quarter Griga took an 11-10 lead and was never caught again. Woodson may be a little out of shape and Head Coach Derrick Morgan pulled him at the end of the first three quarters and for the first several minutes at the start of the fourth. Each time he left the Ballers had a sizeable lead, at one point by 25 points, that the Hurricanes were able to whittle down at one point to just 4 points in the fourth before he returned.
The game also saw the return of Daniel Conorque who has a complete game, and sparkling play from Edgar Mitchell and Delvon Henderson, no doubt buoyed by the home cooking but more likely Woodson’s positioning, locking down the paint, setting screens, passing, and so on. Griga registered 23 assists, 11 steals, 4 blocks,17 fouls, and 11 turnovers while the ‘Canes could only record 7 assists, 5 steals, 0 blocks, 17 fouls, and 20 turnovers though they outrebounded their opponents 43 -31.
The Hurricanes got nearly all their points from guard Victor Evans (22 points), center Jamal Harris (16 points, 3-4 from deep), forward Akeem Watters (12 points), forward Raheem Thurton (9 points), and forward Kris Frazier (10 points and 8 rebounds). They were without the services of sparkplug Glency “Coope” Lopez who made the trip but may still be feeling the effects of a concussion and has a sore arm.
They were also without Kirk Smith Jr., who watched the game from the seats, eager to play but waiting out a seven-game suspension that expires after the next game.
Alex Carcamo did not make the trip and may not be in Belize. He too is sitting out a 4-game suspension that will similarly expire after the ‘Canes next game.
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