:Jamaica Observer; :Jan 16, 2011; :Sport; :39

MANCHESTER, BELAIR claim Conference titles

BY OSHANE TOBIAS Observer writer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Manchester High and Belair School were crowned respective U-19 and U-16 ISSA/KFC Central Conference basketball champions after scoring hard-fought victories in Friday’s deciders at Belair.

    The Damon Sullivan-coached Manchester held off a tough Knox College, 62-54, in double-overtime to win their bestof-three finals, 2-0.

    But Belair needed some heroics and a bit of luck to clip Munro College, 60-59, also for a 2-0 win.

    The Mandeville-based schools and their runner-ups will now represent the region in the National Play-offs.

    Having lost the Game One, 54-44, Knox entered the contest knowing only a win would suffice, and they looked on course with a massive 10-0 lead after four minutes.

    But Manchester soon responded and slowly cut into Knox’s lead after three quarters when they led for the first time, albeit by a point (31-30).

    Knox, through Michael Johnson’s 22 points and 12 rebounds, rallied to force overtime with a 17-16 fourth-quarter win.

    The scores were again level after five minutes (4-4), but a big performance from Stefan Murray (who shot 16 points and eight rebounds) in the second period of overtime saw Manchester running away with the title (11-3).

    Earlier, Munro’s Jordon Lawson missed two free throws with two seconds to go as Belair held on for their second lien.

    Star shooter Romerio Veals had only seven seconds earlier sunk a three-pointer to hand the Michael Stevenson-coached Belair a one-point lead.

    However, in one final attempt to send the game into overtime, Lawson drew a foul and was sent to the line, but the standout Munro player just could not hold his nerves, crashing both off the rim.

    Munro, who lost Game One, 35-33, brought that nerve-racking ending on themselves as they looked the likely winners at the first break, leading 14-8, but allowed their opponents to narrowed that gap 26-24 at the half.

    With Ahkeem Forbes being in good form at the hoop (21 points), they again widened the lead to nine (44-35) entering the fourth, but Matthew Conley (17) and Romario Fagan (15) set up a nice finish for Veals to steal the game with a nice shot from downtown.

Keith Wellington (left) of ISSA presents the ISSA/KFC Central Conference U-16 trophy to Belair captain Patrick Meikle following their 60-59 victory over Munro College at Belair on Friday. (Photo: Oshane Tobias)