Bermuda continued their preparation for the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Caribbean Pre- Qualifiers as they resumed play in the 15th Annual Niagara College Basketball Tournament with a double header in Canada.
After going down in their first game of the tournament the Bermuda would bounce back and win their first game of the day 62 – 51 over Club X-Men.
Bermuda Head Coach Gavin McKenzie walked into Bermuda’s morning meeting with one message. “Let’s get back to our identity and play tough team defense”. Bermuda obviously got the message as they began the game by playing suffocating on the ball defense.
Bermuda were playing like a team re-energized as they rotated beautifully and for the first time in the tournament moved as a unit. Energy man, Kameron James particularly played staunch defense collecting a few steals.
Bermuda’s defense led to offense as they moved the ball purposely, attacked the basket aggressively and shot with confidence. Co-Captains Chris Crumpler and Jason Lowe led from the front scoring 14 and 9 points respectively. Bermuda were finally clicking on offense. Adam Correia and Stevey Brown-Darrell in particular hit some tough shots to extend Bermuda’s lead and head into half time with a twenty point cushion 37-17.
Bermuda’s defense was equally as frugal throughout the first ten minutes of the second half. Like a well-oiled, machine the defensive rotations were seamless and the on court communication was paying dividends.
However, the X-Men seemed to summon their powers just halfway through the second half. Sparked by a couple 3’s and determined rebounding they narrowed the lead Bermuda lead to 9 points.
Coach McKenzie called for a timeout that proved critical as he saw his team running out of steam. Bermuda regained their defensive composure. However, the offense had become stagnant and Bermuda needed some much needed scoring.
They found that scoring in the form of two timely 3’s from Lowe which he coupled with points attacking the basket. But the X-Men were not done yet as they managed to string together a few baskets by attacking the offensive glass.
Nevertheless, Crumpler controlled the pace of the game on the offensive end and burned crucial minutes off the clock as Bermuda cruised to the double digit win.
Lowe was Bermuda’s high scorer with 18 points, Crumpler had 17 and Correia added 10 points.
In their second game of the day Bermuda faced off against Club Wildcats wholly comprised of ex Division 1 and Division 2 players who proved to be their toughest competition of the tournament yet falling 91 - 61.
Bermuda began the game again with stingy defense but struggled to score. Eventually Crumpler found his groove scoring Bermuda’s first 9 points. The teams battled back and forth in a physical game that was eventually opened up by dead-eye shooting from the Wildcats.
Bermuda’s offense struggled to match the offensive intensity of their counterparts as the only other players to score more than 5 points in the first half were Lowe with 6 and Sabur Burrows with 5.
Bermuda’s struggles were not limited to offense only, as once again fatigue and tired legs plagued the overall older Bermuda Team. Wildcats cruised to an early halftime lead of 47 - 26.
The second half unfortunately was more of the same as Bermuda struggled to consistently hit shots and defensively allowed the Wildcats to get in the paint and cause havoc, scoring from all angles.
The Wildcats shot particularly well from deep connecting on eleven 3’s in the second half alone. The game was well in hand half way through the second half but Bermuda continued to fight and show pride.
Correia eventually found his rhythm knocking down a couple trifecta’s and Brown-Darrell continued to attack the basket and fight for rebounds in the paint.
Crumpler was high scorer again with 24 points, Lowe, Correia and Brown-Darrell all chipped in with 8 points apiece.