High school battles light up court

Marshall Islands High School player Lil’Yana Gideon drives to the basket against the Majuro Coop Mad Dogs defense during the high school championship game won by two points by Coop. Photo: Wilmer Joel.

WILMER JOEL

The boys and girls high school basketball championship battles lit up the court and generated huge audience participation last week in Majuro.

The two top high schools in the girls basketball division squared off in the league’s championship game last week Thursday at the Assumption Basketball Court.

There was a noticeable buzz as the girls teams from Majuro Cooperative School and Marshall Islands High School began their championship battle. There is a history between the two teams. Three years ago, MIHS dethroned Co-op 71-59, ending its nine-year winning streak as the high school basketball champs for Majuro. After a year, Co-op made a comeback, reclaimed its title as the winning team, and has maintained it ever since.

MIHS bench: Huge turnouts of fans for both the girls and boys high school championship games last week generated cheers, clapping, honking and dancing from the sidelines. Pictured here is the MIHS cheering section for the girls game against Majuro Coop School. Photo: Wilmer Joel.

As the game went underway, each team tightened up their offensive and defensive game strategies. Emotions were running high as the crowd cheered on the teams. People were honking their cars, holding posters, unfurling banners, and engaging in loud, animated chants.

After a tough back and forth between both teams, the Co-op Mad Dogs won 33–31 in a nail-biting championship match against the MIHS Geckos.

The most valuable player award went to Ida Underwood, who wears jersey number three. There was a three-point competition between the top shooters from the different public and private schools during the halftime break. Trisha Lometo of Life Skills Academy won the competition.

US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Lance Posey told the Journal that the game created an electric atmosphere. “It was amazing to see the crowd so electric and full of energy,” he said. “It was nice to see the teams work towards a common goal of having a good time and sportsmanship.”

He went on to say that watching the girls play makes him think of his earlier career as a coach for an international school basketball team.

The next day, November 17, all eyes were on the main event at the Assumption Basketball Court, which featured an epic championship match between boys teams from Assumption High School and Majuro Baptist Christian Academy.

The sound of deafening screams and cheers filled the entire court as the first quarter went underway. Both teams struggled to put a score on the board in the first four and a half minutes of play. There were numerous turnovers as both teams tightened their defense. The Saints had a seven-point advantage going into the final minutes and took control of the first quarter from the Bucks. In the second quarter, the Saints maintained their dominance and the Bucks found it difficult to comeback from a four-point lead.

Cheers, chants, banging pots, and car honking kept the court electrified, and the tension between the two teams continued to soar.

In the third quarter, the Bucks tried a shot for redemption. In under four minutes and fifty four seconds, they made a seven point comeback and led the game by one point. The Bucks had turned the tables on the Saints. Assumption, however, mounted a comeback that secured them a 12 point lead, ending the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, with both teams determined to not give up, everything was at stake. Assumption bolstered their defenses to thwart MBCA’s subsequent attempts to seize the lead. Ultimately, the Saints dominated and kept the Bucks at bay with a 20 point lead. Final score 62-42. The most valuable player award went to Miles Graham, the player wearing jersey number nine.

Amari Kabua, the captain of the Assumption High School team, told the Journal that they followed a particular tactic. “We followed a 3-2 zone defense, a five out offense, and teamwork and trust in each other to win the championship.” He went on, “This championship means a lot to me. I always wanted a championship in high school, and it’s a great feeling,” he said.

Amari expressed his desire to congratulate his friend Miles Graham on winning the MVP award.

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