BELIZE CITY, Wed. Nov. 22, 2018– The Digi-Puppy Leslie Youth Basketball League production consisted of a hectic and exciting month and a half of youth basketball at Swift Hall, where six U-14 teams and six U-18 teams played a double round-robin in their respective categories; and this past weekend saw the playoff rounds, culminating with the final game of the championship series in both categories, which took place at the Civic Center on Monday afternoon, November 19th, Garifuna Settlement Day.
On Friday night, the top four U-14 and U-18 teams in regular season were involved in the knockout semifinals at Swift Hall, where the two winners from each category would move on to the championship round. In the U-14, Lake-I defeated Lakers, and Bulldogs U-14 won over Belama Gators; and in the U-18, it was North Side Ballers over Tropic, and Bulldogs U-18 over Chiefs.
On Saturday at Swift Hall, the U-14 and U-18 All Star Games were followed by individual contests among selected players from the different teams in the tournament – Skills Challenge, Free Throw Challenge, and Three Point Contest; after which was featured game 1 in the best-of-3 games championship series for the U-14 and U-18 finalists.
In Saturday evening’s finals game 1, both Bulldogs teams prevailed after well contested match-ups. It was Bulldogs U-14 over Lake-I, and Bulldogs U-18 over North Side Ballers.
The championship finals and awards ceremony were held at the Civic Center on the afternoon of Garifuna Settlement Day, November 19, where both games played were very competitive and exciting down to the end; but again it was the Bulldogs prevailing, to claim both U-14 and U-18 championships with a second consecutive victory. In the U-14, Bulldogs won, 69-64, over Lake-I. Kyle Castillo led Bulldogs U-14 with 21 pts; while Tarique Solis had 20 pts for Lake-I. And in the U-18, it was Bulldogs U-18 with the 75-64 win over North Side Ballers.
In the awards ceremony that followed, tournament organizer Darwin “Puppy” Leslie thanked all the teams participating in the tournament for their exciting and incident free participation. He also thanked the sponsors, DigiCell and part sponsors RF&G, his brother Jacob “Snake” Leslie who was instrumental in coordinating the tournament; the referees, coaches, desk officials, and the fans, some of whom contributed behind the scenes, one in particular who donated “Powerade” for the players. When Puppy asked for a minute of silence in sympathy with Belama Gators U-14 coach, Raheem Staine, whose younger brother, 21 year old Eric Staine, was killed over the weekend, the raucous atmosphere from energetic youth soon dwindled to absolute silence, till you heard your ears tingle, in respect and solidarity.
Beautiful individual trophies were then issued to players on the first and second place teams in both U-14 and U-18 categories, along with the big team trophy to their coaches.
Puppy said he personally selected the two youths who would receive the Best Sportsman Award; and he handed the U-14 trophy to Holden Bradley of Belama Gators; and the U-18 trophy to Tevaun Lennan of Chiefs.
Selected as U-14 MVP was Leroy Betson of champions, Bulldogs U-14; and U-18 MVP was Tyrese “Whylie” Usher of champions, Bulldogs U-18.