Wednesday, December 13, 2017

St Catherine High School secured their first ever schoolboy football title of any kind when they defeated Eltham High 4-3 on penalties to lift the INSPORTS Challenge Cup at the Spanish Town Prison Oval, St Catherine on August 30, 2017.

The game boil down to penalties after St Catherine’s Marcovich Brown’s 76th minute goal canceled out Eltham’s Devonto Francis 61st minute strike in normal time, while the scores remain unchanged after 20 minutes of extra-time.

Raheem Henry, who starred in St Catherine’s semi-final victory last week, denied Francis in the shootout before Richard Brown, with Eltham’s fourth kick, fired wide of the target to spark wild celebration amongst the boys from St John’s Road.

In a game full of energy but lacking real quality, Francis’ goal which came against the run of play, added much intrigue through to the end. The tension was certainly high, particularly in the St Catherine High camp, which played out when Aliki Ellis wasted a glorious opportunity from the penalty spot to level. But minutes later Marcovich Brown restored parity from a free-kick 14 minutes from the end.

Winning coach Anthony Patrick said it was a morale boosting win and a statement going into the Manning Cup season.

St Catherine’s Paul Planter (left) and Jordan Mullings of Eltham battle for possession in the INSPORTS Challenge Cup final

"This is the first football final St Catherine has ever won, so it is very important and I am very happy we won,” he said. “This is a morale booster, now we have to wait on the Manning Cup season and see what happens. But it augurs well for us, as we started the season shakily but gradually game by game we started to play well and this is a testimony going into the Manning Cup season.”

St Catherine started better and created better opportunities but Brown squandered many of those chances to put St Catherine ahead. Eltham created good openings but most times had no one on the end of things.

The best chance of the half fell to St Catherine's Parrin Lewis but he failed to connect with Paul Planter's low cross.

Just after the break, Brown breached Eltham’s defence but kicked straight to Henry in goal.

Minutes later Eltham won a corner and Francis curled the resulting kick directly into the goal to give Eltham the lead.

But St Catherine got a great chance to equalise when Planter was brought down inside the box, but Ellis placed his effort wide of the target.

Malieke Miller (centre left), captain of St Catherine High School, accepts the symbolic champions’ cheque from Sport Minister Hon. Olivia Grange. Sharing in the presentation are Institute of Sport Administrative Director (ad interim) Renardo Smith (right) and Peter Reid (left), president of the St Catherine Football Association.

However, Brown made amends for all his profligacy earlier, when St Catherine received a free-kick outside the area and the midfielder curled a delicate shot past Ricardo Wright in the Eltham goal.

In extra-time, St Catherine also came closest with Jevaughn Cole missing a sitter. Rudy Brian also found the net but was ruled offside, while Joel Simpson hit the post with a header late on.

In the shootout, St Catherine netted all four kicks taken while Eltham failed to make it count with their fourth and fifth kicks.

Eltham's assistant coach Grenville Holmes said the defeat was “heartbreaking” but they were pleased with the preparation it afforded them for the upcoming schoolboy football season.

"It’s heartbreaking really. The fact that this idea is Eltham High School’s idea and to see we didn't win it hurts, but that's football. But it was a great tournament and hats off to INSPORTS," he said.

Jamaica Football Federation Director of Football Wendell Downswell (left) presents the tournament’s leading goal scorer award to Dinthill’s Antonio Roberts

St Catherine receive the Challenge Cup trophy and $100.000.00. Eltham took home $50.000. The eight participating teams also received $30.000.00 each.

Meanwhile Dinthill finished the eight-team pilot pre-season tournament third after blanking fellow daCosta outfit and neighbours Bog Walk 2-0. Antonio Roberts, who copped the golden boot award with six goals, scored both goals in the 23rd and 30th minutes.

Organised by state agency, the Institute of Sports, The INSPORTS Challenge Cup is a pilot preseason schoolboy football tournament held in parish of St Catherine involving eight teams.

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Old Harbour’s long wait in lifting the schoolboy National Basketball Under-19 Championship has been extended after failing at the semi-final hurdle yet again.

The Ricardo Edwards-coached senior outfit were yesterday beaten 27-19 by arch rivals Ardenne at GC Foster College where defending champions Calabar retained their title with a 62-52 over-time victory over the latter in the grand showdown hours later.

Over the years undisputed Northern Conference kings Old Harbour and Ardenne of the Southern Conference have developed a rivalry with the latter maintaining a slim advantage.

But even in a low-scoring encounter the south west St Catherine side found themselves on the losing end. Old Harbour performed way below their usual standards, as Nicoloy Bailey’s eight points and Robert Johnson, who registered six points summed up the team’s performance. Even the giant frame of six-foot, 11-inch Javel Redwood was anonymous, as the forward found scoring almost impossible.

“We beat ourselves,” Edwards told Old Harbour News in his assessment. “There were too much missed opportunities from open play and from the free throw line.”

“We just weren’t finishing,” added the coach who guided Old Harbour to national Under-16 glory in 2013 but only have a two semi-final appearances at the senior level to show. “I have to sit down and design another three-year plan because most of the guys will be leaving this year.”

Meanwhile, many-time champions Calabar survived a nail-biting 47-45 semi-final win against St Catherine High before holding their nerve in over-time to defeat Ardenne.

St Catherine were mere seconds away from reaching the final when Calabar’s Javaughn Taylor sunk a three-pointer at the final buzzer during the morning session.

An upbeat Ardenne came out much improved for the final but trailed the champs for the most part with Calabar leading by as much as seven points at the end of the third quarter.

But Ardenne did brilliantly pegging back the deficit in the final quarter, outscoring the champs 15-8 to draw level at 48-48. The break seem to serve Calabar better though, as Maleik McCarthy, who was later named most valuable player (MVP) of the final for his game high 28 points - took his team to a deserved win.

Jevaun Faulder supported McCarthy with 13 points of his own, while Ardenne’s Justin Rhoden had a team high 15 points.

In junior action St George’s College defeated St Catherine 54-47 to claim the Under-16 crown. Jordan Gillies led all scores with 14 points in leading Light Blues’ charge, while Shevorn Williams had 13 points for St Catherine.

Both St Catherine and St George’s had easy semi-final wins en route to the final - the latter outclassing Jamaica College 41-22, while the former dispatched Manchester 42-26.

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Old Harbour are through to the ISSA National Basketball Under-19 semi-finals without taking the court.

The Northern Conference champs automatically advance to the last four after Camperdown and Manchester both turn up at the GC Foster College Auditorium without player identification cards.

With only the zone winner advancing, surprisingly the three-team zone was scheduled to be decided today with each team playing twice.

But the unnecessary demand of having schoolboys playing two competitive games some three hours apart did not materialized, at least for Old Harbour, as Southern Conference outfit Camperdown and Central Conference champions Manchester came without their IDs.

Also today at GC Foster College, Calabar trounced Cornwall College 74-33 after Clarendon College did not show up for their morning session fixture.

At the Montego Bay Cricket Club, St Catherine overcame Belair 54-49 before drubbing York Castle 57-17 in afternoon play, while Ardenne battled to a 57-54 win over Herbert Morrison, having gotten by Glenmuir 64-34 earlier in the day.

Old Harbour will play arch nemesis Ardenne High in semi-final two on February 16 at GC Foster College, after defending national champions Calabar tackle St Catherine at the same venue.

Meanwhile, Old Harbour’s juniors will be aiming to reach the last four of the national play-offs when they meet St George’s College at GC Foster College at 11:50 am before facing Glenmuir at 2:10 pm later on the same day.

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