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Koblerville nips Kagman in finale

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Koblerville Elementary School’s Gio Camacho, left, beats Kagman Elementary School’s Jreyvon Sebu and Kevin Ruwaath in this rebound play during the second half of their title game in the 2019-2020 Public School System Interscholastic Elementary Basketball League last Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Payton Lizama and Gio Camacho teamed up in the pivotal play for Koblerville Elementary School to lift the Umangs to a 12-10 finals victory over Kagman High School in the 2019-2020 Public School System Interscholastic Elementary Basketball League last Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.

Lizama drove baseline (right) and when it seemed like he was about to lose possession, as Kagman’s defense collapsed on him, the fourth grader had the presence of mind of passing the ball to Camacho, who was alone in the paint for the point-blank shot that gave Koblerville the go-ahead with less than a minute left in the title match.

“It’s being at the right place, right time with the right pass,” Koblerville head coach Francis Mendiola said when asked about Lizama and Camacho’s game-winning play. “Beside teaching our boys the basic skills in basketball, we also always remind them to be aware where they and their teammates are at so that play was a proof how important to know your spot in the game.”

After Camacho’s dagger, Kagman had multiple chances to score to tie the match. The first one was when Jreyvon Sebu stole an inbound pass and sprinted to their frontcourt for a layup, but he overshot his mark. Jequinn Lizama ran with Sebu in the fastbreak play and went for the putback, however, he faltered too, with the ball rimming out.

After the back-to-back misses, the Marlins had one final opportunity to knot the count and send the game in overtime when Koblerville turned the ball anew. Francisco Delos Santos then got the possession and with the clock ticking, he drove to the basket, but his shot had too much spin on it and rolled out. There was a battle for the rebound for a few seconds before time expired and Koblerville escaped with the finals win.

Koblerville, besides winning the boys championship trophy, also finished the season undefeated in 11 games. The Umangs prevailed in all their eight matches in the preliminaries, downed Brilliant Star School in the first round of the single-elimination playoffs last weekend, 24-6, and topped Garapan Elementary School in the semis, 18-10, to book the first finals ticket.

In the title game, Kagman raced to a 4-0 lead behind the two straight baskets of Sebu. However, the match ended in a deadlock after the first half, 6-6, as Camacho, Jerald Dalawampu and Basa scored for the Umangs, while the Marlins got only one basket from Delos Santos.

Dalawampu broke the tie with his undergoal shot, while Camacho, the tallest player on Koblerville’s side, also made a bucket in the paint, giving the Umang’s more cushion, 10-6. However, Sebu countered with a baseline jumper followed by Lizama’s banked shot to force the standoff anew.

The game stayed even for several minutes before Basa and Camacho broke the deadlock and Kagman’s heart in the closing phase of the title game.

Kagman, which had a 6-0 record in the prelims, advanced to the championship match after eliminating William S. Reyes Elementary School A, 18-10, and Oleai Elementary School, 20-4, Garapan and Oleai, before losing in their finals bids, made it to the semis after beating WSR B, 16-2, and San Vicente Elementary School B, 12-4, respectively.

Agape clinches girls title
While Koblerville labored its way through the title win in the boys division, Agape Christian School took the girls crown easily after topping Garapan, 12-2.

Ruth Zhang led Agape, scoring 8 of their total points in the finale. Joining Zhang on the champion squad were Barbara Wang, Mary Fu, Serena Chen, Yilu Wang, Crystal Yu, and Jessie Campbell, while Pastor Kok H. Pang coached Agape.

Agape moved to the finals after ousting Oleai Elementary School, 22-2, and Koblerville, 12-4, while Garapan made it to the title game following its victory over San Vicente, 14-6.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.
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