Mt. Carmel School booked the first finals ticket in the middle school division of the 2017-2018 Commonwealth Coalition of Private School Association Basketball League after dominating Saipan International School, 41-18, in their semis duel yesterday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The Knights pulled away from the Geckos in the second quarter with Richard Steele and Merrick Toves teaming up in a pivotal 13-0 run to turn a shaky 10-9 lead to a double-digit spread at halftime, 23-9. Rafael Galang scored the other field goal for Mt. Carmel in the opening minute of the second canto, while Rintaro Miyawaki answered quickly for SIS before the As Lito-based squad’s offense went cold, allowing the Knights to break the game wide open.
The Geckos failed to counter Steele’s four straight baskets and Toves’ string of five points, as the former committed errors and the Knights clogged the passing lanes, making it difficult for Miyawaki and Jabez Sebastian to get the ball inside and pull up for point-blanked shots. Miyawaki and Sebastian earlier cherry-picked in the paint in their 25-12 quarterfinal win over Marianas Baptist Academy last Friday.
SIS picked up its scoring a bit in the third period, but Toves and Steele kept going to help the Knights retain its double-digit advantage, 35-16, going into the payoff canto. Mt. Carmel then led by as much as 24 points in the fourth quarter and with the game in the bag, coach Francis San Nicolas pulled out Steele and his other starters, allowing the Knights’ second stringers to put the finishing touches to their lopsided win.
Steele and Toves top-scored for the Knights after firing 12 points each, while six of their teammates also hit the board in the 23-point win over SIS. Miyawaki paced the Geckos with his 9 markers, while Sebastian was held to 3 points, and only two other SIS players contributed to the team’s failed finals bid.
Mt. Carmel is making its seventh straight finals appearance in the middle school division of the league and the Knights will be gunning for their third title in that stretch. Mt. Carmel’s string of finals stints started in the 2011-2012 season, which Grace Christian Academy won, 35-34. The Knights got back at the GCA Eagles the following season with a 39-25 win in the finals, but MCS lost in the finale of the next two season (versus Whispering Palms, 11-16 and SIS, 27-44). In the 2015-2016 season, the Knights edged Agape Christian School in the finals, 40-38, before the latter dethroned MCS in the 2016-2017 season, 33-19.
Meanwhile, Agape battled GCA in the second semis game last night, but results of the match were unavailable at press time. The winner of the GCA-Agape tiff will challenge Mt. Carmel tomorrow for the division championship.
MCS 41—Steele 12, Toves 12, Tenorio 4, Sablan 4, Naraja 3, Diaz 2, Borja 2, Galang 2.
SIS 18—Miyawaki 9, Nam 4, Sebastian 3, Kim 2.
Scoring by quarters: 8-7, 23-9, 35-16, 41-18.