Dandan Middle School 2 pulled off a 5-4 win over top seed Grace Christian Academy in the championship match of the Public School System Interscholastic Girls Middle School Basketball League last Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.
Shanesse Aldan hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to lift Dandan to the title victory against the Eagles, who went into the finals undefeated after sweeping the eight games in the regular season
Aldan said she felt great about making the winning shot for her school and admitted she has been practicing her 3-point shooting.
“It was a good shot and I’ve been trying to shoot long shots with the help of our coaches,” she said.
After Aldan’s dagger, GCA tried desperately to regain the lead, but Dandan 2 held strong on defense to hand the Eagles a sorry loss in the finale. GCA led at 4-0, off Elisha Henzon and Azriel Fatiolofa’s baskets, while Casey Cruz made the other field goal for Dandan 2 before leaving the floor due to an injury. Fatiolofa was also hurt, as she sustained a knee injury in the first half, but she soldiered on in the second half in an attempt to win the finals for GCA.
However, Dandan spoiled the Eagles’ bid, making coach Shanny Lely proud of her squad.
“It was a tight game. We’re so proud of them, we worked so hard and of course the girls worked harder, and we’re here today, we won,” she said.
When asked about their chances of defending the perpetual trophy next season, Lely said, “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and keep doing our best because that’s all that matters. We plan to keep our title next year.”
Aside from Cruz and Aldan, Gracie Mendiola, Analee Aldan, Pattylyn Mendiola, Angel Calage, Andrea Teigita, and Tricia Rabago also played for the champion team.
Meanwhile, PSS Athletic Program director Nick Gross thanked all the participating schools and congratulated Dandan 2 for winning the title.
“Dandan persevered, stuck through it. GCA has been great all year and that was the team’s first loss of the year. Dandan 2 came in as No. 3 seed and GCA was No. 1 and unbeaten so this is one of those Cinderella moments where you win it when you’re not expected to, but that’s why we play the game and don’t just go by a seeding and give the trophy,” Gross said.
Hopwood Middle School 1 and 2, Agape Christian School, Dandan 1, and Mount Carmel School also played in last weekend’s single-elimination tournament.
Hopwood 1 defeated Agape, 16-8, to advance to the semis against GCA. The Eagles then took the first finals seat after ousting Hopwood 1, 11-9.
Dandan 2 notched the second finals ticket following its victories over Hopwood 2, 26-11, and Mt. Carmel, 17-9. The Knights moved into the semis after booting out Dandan 1, 24-6.