Laiser Hill and Tigoi Girls High are this year’s national basketball champions.
Tigoi successfully defended their title with a clinical 84-40 victory over Shimba Hills as this year’s Brookside Kenya secondary schools Term One Games came to an end.
Jeremy Opiyo scored a game’s high 23 points for Maseno but couldn’t salvage their sinking boat as they relinquished the title to Laiser Hill 71-40.
In what was expected to be a tightly-contested affair, turned out to be one of the most one-sided finals in years. Judging from their body language, it was evident that Shimba Hills lost the match even before it began.
When Mitchelle Adhyambo wasn’t running into the Tigoi defence, Assuran Primerose was committing costly turnovers.
“We are delighted to have retained the trophy. Since we won last year, we have been having constant training sessions. It has paid off,” said Tigoi coach, Bernard Jumba. “We are not resting as the regional games are just four months away. We also need to defend the trophy.”
Laiser Hill, whose win on Saturrday extended their national titles to four, pulled their usual Nelson Minah and Elijah Biar act, blowing most of a big lead before hanging on at the end.
Reuben Mutoro never wavered though, closing his spectacular championship outing with 11 points.
“It has been a long journey and we are glad to have made it safely,” said Laiser Hill’s Anthony Kirimi.
Omari Mulumba added 13 points and Minah had 10 and seven rebounds for Laiser, who led all the way, as they completed a double over the former champions. They won 73-50 in their first group match.
“We beat a lot of good teams,” Kirimi said. “All we can do is look forward to next season.”
Maseno closed within five on Albino Ngor’s three-pointer with 4:18 to play in the first quarter. Lrry Nyangweso answered with a three-point play and Mutoro made a layup to keep Laiser in front, 20-10 in the end of the first quarter.
Opiyo won a jump ball, but then had it stolen by Mutoro. After a Laiser Hill timeout, Mwalimu Heri missed a three-pointer as Maseno’s pep talk seemed to work in their favour.
Opiyo intercepted James Aduke’s inbounds pass, got fouled and made both free throws, five minutes into the second quarter.
“In the first half, we were energetic and moving the ball and then we started looking at the scoreboard and stopped trying to make the extra pass. We also committed so many turnovers and that cost us,” said Maseno head coach Paul Otula.
Biar put on one final show for Laiser, dunking with abandon and showing off the flashy moves that are expected to win him the championship’s MVP.