Light on a dark day

U17 basketball inter-insular Jersey v Guernsey 20 Lukundo Sikapizye Picture: JON GUEGAN. (38068487)

A POSITIVE future for Jersey basketball has offered a ray of sunshine after a dark conclusion to a weekend of inter-insular action at Fort Regent.

Four matches against old rivals and near neighbours Guernsey should have provided an uplifting climax to the season, but instead became overshadowed by tragedy as Jersey’s Guillaume Hoareau collapsed on court during the men’s match and later died.

While the match was immediately abandoned, three games had already been contested and the JBBA has expressed support for coverage of the achievements of those involved in the earlier action.

President Paul Milbank said the association was focusing on the wellbeing of the basketball community, but added: “G would have particularly wanted the young people to celebrate their victories and continue playing.”

Celebrations, mixed with a fair amount of nervous exhaustion, had certainly been in order for the host U21 squad after a pulsating victory over their green-vested opponents by the narrowest of margins.

Co-coaches Hoareau and Stuart Gilmour needed to calm a nervous Jersey squad after they wobbled in the opening quarter, which ended with a 7-16 deficit, but control returned to the home side’s play and by half-time the visitors’ lead was just a point at 27-26.

Jersey led by 41-36 at the end of Q3 and the margin had grown to seven points inside the last couple of minutes before a rousing last hurrah from the Sarnians.

Gilmour said: “Guernsey never gave up and landed two three-point shots towards the end, which meant we only led by one, and needed some really strong defensive play to see it through.

“The team has been together for three years and lost by nine points in last year’s inter-insular, so this showed how they’ve developed.”

Jenson Holmes was at the heart of the defensive rearguard that secured the 56-55 win, although he was just pipped to the MVP award by winning captain Callum Gilmour.

In the first match of the day, the U17s, who like their U21 counterparts had suffered inter-insular defeat in Guernsey 12 months earlier, planted the first red flag on the scoreboard with a convincing win.

The home side led 37-23 at the break, and, although the boys in green staged something of a comeback during the final two quarters, Jersey kept them at arm’s length and eventually won 57-47.

Luke Sikapizye was a strong presence for the U17s and was awarded MVP, while Jesper Jenson was conspicuous throughout and caused his opponents regular problems.

Gilmour said: “The 17s have really worked hard all season, Bob Gouzinis [their coach] has brought a new discipline to their game during the past two years.

“Guernsey came back into the game later on but our boys were able to stay strong and get it over the line.”

Jersey’s women faced a tough task in the third match of the day against a historically strong Guernsey side who have dominated recent inter-insular and Island Games contests between the sides, eventually losing 90-37.

“We’ve lost some members of the women’s squad and knew it would be tough for a young team, but they’ve seen the benchmark set by Guernsey and that’ll give them something to aim towards,” Gilmour said.

Guernsey’s Erin Ogier was named MVP after racking up 20 points and ten rebounds, while Annika Palazzini and Maicka Hollywood were stand-out players for the home side.

The day took a tragic turn soon afterwards, something that will take a long time for the Island’s basketball community to come to terms with, but when that happens it is hoped that the positivity of Saturday’s first three games, and the inspiring role of Guillaume Hoareau, will continue to stand the sport in good stead.

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