Another perfect season, another championship for Mt. Carmel School.
The Knights clinched the boys high school division in the 2015-2016 Coalition of Private School Sports Association Basketball League after crushing Marianas Baptist Academy, 70-35, in the winner-take-all finals last Friday at the MCS Gymnasium.
The title win was Mt. Carmel’s sixth in as many games in the shortened season as it swept the round-robin elimination, 4-0, and then whipped Grace Christian Academy in the semifinals, 61-22. It was the second straight season that the Knights earned a perfect record as last year they posted a 10-0 mark capped by their 55-46 finals victory over 2014 champion Eucon International School.
Last season’s holdovers Anthony Deleon Guerrero and Markel Toves teamed up with newcomer Waren Ellama in lifting Mt. Carmel to the easy win and handing the Knights back-to-back championships. The trio combined for more than half of the team’s total points with Ellama firing 20 and Toves and Deleon Guerrero adding 11 and 10, respectively.
The three key players made 4 points apiece in the first quarter, which saw the Knights building a promising 12-1 lead to set the tone in the finale en route to the easy win.
The rest of the team stepped up in the remaining three quarters, as coach Francis San Nicolas started fielding his second and third stringers in the fourth frame with the Knights having the game in the bag after the third canto, leading by 41, 60-19.
Mt. Carmel managed to rout MBA in the finale and foiled the Tigers’ title bid after a two-year absence in the league despite the latter’s height and heft advantage.
“We knew MBA has the edge in ceiling because they have bigger players, so our focus is to defend the paint well and box them out. If we keep them out of the rebound play, we will take away a lot of second chance points and in return we can work on our own offense, using our speed advantage,” San Nicolas said.
The MCS coach also reminded his players not to be overconfident coming into the finals despite going undefeated in the elimination.
“They should be confident, but not too much. We have to keep playing our best all throughout the game,” the Knights coach added, saying he did not want to celebrate early despite their good start.
“I only began loosening up in the fourth quarter when we had the big lead, but still I cautioned our players that MBA will try to comeback so they still have to keep their guards up,” San Nicolas said.
With San Nicolas steering his Knights to back-to-back championships in the COPSSA league, he said they are hoping to bring their winning ways in the Marianas Interscholastic Sports Organization.
“Hopefully, there will be a MISO league next school year and we really want to win that because it’s been awhile since Mt. Carmel won in MISO,” San Nicolas said.
The last time the Knights earned the boys high school crown in MISO was in 2005 when the league was still under MISA, with the team bannered by Dan Barcinas beating Rowell Aranda-led Saipan Southern High School, 115-110. In COPSSA, Mt. Carmel also had a title drought, beginning in the 2009 before it ended last year when the Knights dethroned Eucon.
MCS 70 — Ellama 20, Toves 11, Deleon Guerrero 10, Gamab 8, Muna 7, Lee 7, Yun 4, Tenorio 3.
MBA 35 — Song 8, Park 8, Chung 7, Lee 6, Kim 2, Hofschneider 2, Baek 2.
Scoring by quarters: 17-5, 39-11, 60-19, 70-35.