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Connelly leads Police to FemBa title
A leading 36 points from Kielle Connelly saw the power forward lead Police to its second straight title in the Female Basketball Association (FemBA) Tournament held over the weekend at the Maloney Indoor Sports Arena.
Connelly helped the policewomen defeat Quarters United 91-61 in the final on Sunday evening in the two-day competition which had some of this country’s top senior players and up-and-coming basketballers on show.
“It feels good,” said a proud Connelly. “Even better because it was basically a young side. Glad to have led them to victory.”
Connelly emerged as the “Most Valuable Player” (MVP) in the finale for her all-round performance also grabbing four rebounds, had two assists and stole the ball three times.
“By winning it (MVP award), I just hope the younger ones coming up take example of how I play. I tried to lead the team and it wasn’t easy because the other teams gave us a great run for our money.”
She did not do it alone though as she was well supported by six-footer centre Samantha Wallace with 16 points, eight rebounds, three steals and a block, and Joelisa Cooper with 13 points, grabbed two boards and stole the ball four times. The team effort helped Police win its second consecutive title in as many years.
“It feels great,” said Connelly of helping Police defend its crown. “It’s like we’re helping contribute to women’s basketball in the country in some way.”
Police entered the final as the only unbeaten team, winning its two matches on the opening day, Saturday, against Quarters (68-57) and Brian Chase (36-33). In both matches, Connelly was the topscorer notching 29 and 20, respectively. Quarters edged Brian Chase by one point (45-44) in the other match to finish with a better record and progressed to the decider.
Stepping up for the south-based Quarters unit was Jamika Knights, who produced a team-high 24 points in the final with three steals. Her teammates Breanna Charles added 12 and Nilleen Ramdial 10 in a losing effort.
Knights picked up a number of prizes including being named the MVP of the All Star match, was the best Under-16 player and won the skills challenge. Also receiving individual awards were Wallace (best defensive player) and her teammate Tia Bruno won the three-point shooting contest in one of the few competitions that showcased women’s basketballers this year.
“I applaud FemBA for doing this. It was just sad that the people who claim to love the sport so much didn’t come out and support,” said a disappointed but optimistic Connelly. “But these young ladies coming up are going to be a force to reckon with."
Final: Police 91 (Kielle Connelly 36 pts/4 rebs/2 assts/3 stls, Samantha Wallace 16 pts/8 rebs/3 stls/1 blk, Joelisa Cooper 13 pts/2 rebs/4 stls) vs Quarters United 61 (Jamika Knights 24 pts/3 stls, Breanna Charles 12 pts/2 rebs/2 bks, Nilleen Ramdial 10 pts/3 stls)
Police 68 (Kielle Connelly 29, Tia Bruno 14, Afiya Vincent 11) vs Quarters 57 (Candice Guerrero 21, Jamika Knights 14, Breanna Charles 9 )
Brian Chase 44 (Alicia Cumberbatch 15, Annola Charles 9, Suelin Tang 7) vs Quarters 45 (Jamika Knights 16, Breanna Charles 9, Nilleen Ramdial 6)
Police 36 (Kielle Connelly 20) vs Brian Chase 33 (Allison Young 12, Annola Charles 13)
Final MVP: Kielle Connelly (Police)
All Star MVP: Jamika Knights
Skills Challenge: Jamika Knights
3 Point Shoot Out: Tia Bruno (Police)
Best U-16 Player: Jamika Knights
Best Defensive Player: Samantha Wallace (Police)
Coach of the Tournament: Ashton Peters (Police)
Second: Quarters United
Third: Brian Chase Academy
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