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BASKETBALL IN 2011

After an extended 3-month leave, Hoops News is glad to be back and is overly excited about this year’s national basketball calendar. While we look feverishly ahead to 2011, we want to pause and quickly take a glance back at the year that was, and at the same time acknowledge some of the big winners of 2010.
  
In secondary school basketball, we salute 2010-2011 National Champs Sadie Vernon Technical male basketball team, and Gwen Liz female basketball team for their outstanding performance in the 2010 national tournament. We also want to give respect to Belize City’s 2010 interoffice champs, Tuff-E-Nuff Tours, who won their second such title in that tourney’s storied 14-year history. Staying in Belize City, we extend kudos to the 2010 male junior champs, Orange Walk Running Rebels, as well as the senior men champs, the University of Belize Black Jaguars.
  
In San Ignacio, we give respect to that municipality’s U-15 male primary school basketball team who placed second in the inaugural year of the newly formed regional primary school tournament, which saw them competing successfully against opponents such as El Salvador and Guatemala. On the local front in that municipality, we extend kudos to BNE Oilers who won the 2010 BECOL senior men’s tournament, while in the U-18 category E3 Rebirth emerged as champs. Staying out west, Flames claimed the U-21 title, while Buca Belmopan triumphed in the Over-35 category.
  
Down south in Dangriga, Belize Bank Benguche won its second straight senior championship, while Hopkins claimed its first junior title.
  
On the international stage, Belize made great strides in both its senior men program as well as in its junior program, winning silver in the 2009 COCABA senior men’s championship which, by virtue of that win, propelled them to the 2010 Centrobasket, in which they gave good account of themselves, placing seventh in that tournament with a respectable 2 wins 2 losses record. Meanwhile, the U-13 and U-15 male programs were successful in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala in February, with both contingents placing second in their respective tournaments, finishing with identical 2 wins 1 loss records. In the 2010 COCABA U-15 tournament played in Guatemala in July, Belize placed second with 3 wins 1 loss, and as a result has qualified for the upcoming Centrobasket which is scheduled for March of this year. If successful, the team may have a good shot at qualifying for the Tournament of the Americas.
 
Organizationally, Hoops News wants to congratulate the Belize Bank Bulldogs basketball club development program which is now entering its third year of existence. The program and the persons involved, namely, Darwin Leslie, Roscoe Rhys and Rupert Brown, must be commended for their steadfast work and dedication to the continued development of the skills of many of the young players of today, who are now the faces of the U-15 and U-17 national program. 
  
Looking ahead, 2011 promises to be an exceptionally active year, with tournaments scheduled from January 17 all the way thru to December 17, later this year. What is even more exciting to basketball purists countrywide is the fact that all the district associations are up and running and apparently all geared and focused on developing and teaching the fundamentals of the game to our younger players ranging between the ages of 7 to 19 years. This collective approach by the associations and spearheaded by the mother-ship (BBF) should, in Hoops News’ opinion, pay huge dividends long term for the continued development of Belize’s basketball, both on the local and regional level.
  
Here in the city, the calendar gets underway on January 28, as the Belize District Basketball Association (BDBA) is scheduled to commence their male U-15 and U-17 tournaments. Simultaneously, similar tournaments in all district towns are scheduled to commence and tentatively conclude by mid-March, so as to enable the organizers to conduct national championships for both age groups. Following the conclusion of the U-15 and U-17 tournaments, the BDBA will then line up two additional tournaments, one catering for the 20 and under age bracket, as well as a senior men’s open tournament. During the summer, things are anticipated to heat up with the first ever male U-13 tournament; while in the final quarter of the year, the females and the male Over-35 will have their say, as they compete in female and male Over 35 tournaments. While we are not certain of the opening date of the 2011 interoffice tournament, we are pretty sure that there will be interoffice basketball in 2011.
  
In Dangriga, January will mark the opening of their U-15 and U-17 male tournaments, followed by their U-20 and senior tournaments, scheduled for the second quarter of the year.
  
Out west, things are pretty consistent, with U-15 and U-17 male tournaments set for later this month. March traditionally has been the month designated for the commencement of the BECOL basketball tournament which usually features U-20, Senior and Over 35 tournaments, and this year as an added element – female basketball. Their basketball calendar usually concludes with the St. Martin’s Credit Union Developmental Tournament (2010) which, by the way, is currently being decided as we speak. 
   
Last week, in the semi-finals of the 7-12 years age bracket, Lakers edged the Heat by the final score of 25-24, behind Kyron “Tut” Molina 12 pts. In the other bracket, Celtics got the better of Hornets, winning by one basket 23-21, as Trey Harris of Celtics totaled a game high 10 pts, while Joseph Montero had 9 pts in the loss. This set up a finals match-up between Lakers and Celtics, and in similar fashion as the NBA, it was Lakers prevailing by the score of 23-19, behind Wilson “Pollo” Reyes 10 pts and Trimayne Harris 9 pts. 
   
In the 13-15 years age bracket, Suns out-dueled Nuggets by the final score of 37-25, with Santiago “Dados” Clarke totaling 21 pts. In the other match-up, Mavericks subdued Hawks by the final score of 31-24, behind Raheem Crawford 9 pts and George Hegar 13 pts in a losing effort. The finals in that age group will be played between Suns and Mavericks, and is set for tonight. 
 
Meanwhile, in the 16-18 years bracket, the finals are all set and will see the Spurs taking on the Bulls. Last week, the latter came out on top of a 45-43 final score played against the Magic. Dijon McNab had 23 pts in the win, while Elvis "Zui" Usher could only muster 14 pts for the Magic. Conversely, the Spurs in similar fashion narrowly edged the Bucks by the final score of 35-33. This game saw Zamir "Gramox" Usher and Michael "Scratch" Arnold totaling 8 pts each in the win, while for the Bucks it was Shelton "O" Defour finishing with 9 pts. Both tournaments are scheduled to conclude tonight with consolation and championship games in both the 13-15 and 16-18 years age groups, after which trophies should be presented by the sponsors to all participants of the tournaments.
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