BASKETBALL BEFORE WINDSOR PARK: 1966-1971
JUMP BALL No. XIX (Segment A): by Arlington James
Jump Ball edition No. VI (16 Jan 17) was entitled, Basketball in Windsor Park: Gone Are Those Days, and covered the "national league" for the period 1972-2000.
This current article, Basketball Before Windsor Park: 1966-1971, provides readers with a peek into the league over the period preceding its relocation from St. Mary's Academy (SMA) grounds to Windsor Park, in February 1972.
The article will be divided into three segments: 1966/1967; 1968/1969; and 1970/1971, and the information was sourced from archived Dominica Chronicle and The Star Dominica newspapers.
In those days basketball was relatively new here, having been introduced to Dominica by the Christian Brothers of Ireland who administered SMA – the birth place of our national basketball league. However, the sport showed significant growth between 1966 and 1971 with increasing popularity among the youth, including both all-boys secondary schools.
Starting with a mere 4 teams in 1966, the League roster grew by 2 per year for the next two years, to 8 in 1968. That number remained unchanged in 1969, but grew by two more in 1970. The League saw no net change through 1971, although the list of teams changed between 1968 and 1971 with the exit and entry of teams.
Other significant changes/events that occurred during that 6-year period were the introduction of a Division II; SMA fielding teams in both Divisions; a team from out-of-town competing in the League for the first time; Dominica's Island Team engaging several teams both at home and overseas; and the staging of a major, 28-mile walk-a-thon.
We begin with Season Summaries for 1966 & 1967.
BASKETBALL IN 1966
Dominica's Basketball League was first staged in 1966, with only four teams participating in the inaugural year. The season ran for 5 weeks, from 7th May to 11th June, and fell under the auspices of the Basketball Sub-Committee of the Dominica Amateur Sports Association.
The 1966 League teams were: Argonauts, Citylites, Limers and St. Mary's Academy.
Citylites won the 1966 League Championship while St. Mary's Academy took the Knock-Out Championship that year.
It may be that the 1966 League was only a single-round/Round-robin affair, and scores of only two matches were published in the Dominica Chronicle: Citylites vs SMA (34-31); and Limers vs Argonauts (52-38).
For the Knock-Out competition, the results of all four games were published. S.M.A. vs Limers (65-42) and Citylites vs Argonauts (46-33) played in the semi-finals. Limers then defeated Argonauts 47-42 for 3rd place, while S.M.A. edged out Citylites 36-32 to capture the 1966 Knock-Out Championship.
The most outstanding player-score published in 1966 was 22 points, made by Bradley Hector of Limers. His team had scored 52 points in a match vs Argonauts.
A Refereeing Committee was also formed in 1966.
BASKETBALL IN 1967
The 1967 basketball season lasted three months, from 13th January to 15th April.
The popularity of the sport here was beginning to mushroom as there was an increase in the number of teams from 4 to 6, with the entry of two new teams into the League.
Teams participating in the 1967 Season were: Argonauts, Atoms (new), Citylites, Dominica Grammar School (new), Limers and St. Mary's Academy.
Newcomers Atoms won both League and Knock-Out Championships in 1967. The League trophy was donated by O.D. Brisbane & Sons, while Cable & Wireless provided the Knock-Out trophy, and crowds of up to 500 attended some of the games during the season.
His Excellency the Administrator attended the Awards Function, at which the following awards were distributed in addition to the League & Knock-Out Championship Awards:- Team Displaying the Best All Round Skill - S.M.A.; Most Valuable Player - Bernard Thomas (S.M.A.); Highest Scorer in the League - Wilmoth LeBlanc (Limers); Best Defensive Player – Cuthbert Williams (Atoms); Most Promising Player – Wilkinson Williams (S.M.A.); All-Star Tokens:– Cuthbert Williams, McFord Zamore (Atoms), Bernard Thomas, Wilmoth LeBlanc and Herbert Thomas (Citylites). Diamonds Combo entertained the crowd that evening.
According to Dominica Chronicle, the following players were selected to the 1967 Island Team: McFord Zamore, Jim Murray (a Peace Corps Volunteer), George Daniel, Errol Blackman, Herbert Thomas, Patrick Pemberton, Eric Virgo, Wilmoth LeBlanc, H. Bradley [Bradley Hector?] and Bernard Thomas.
That year a "team from Grand Bay", at the time still unnamed, made their first appearance, playing against and defeating SMA in a short exhibition match on the Awards Presentation night.
In 1967, Dominican basketball lovers saw two regional teams engage local teams in friendlies on the SMA Grounds.
Firstly, Guadeloupe's Island Team played and won both games against Dominica's Island Team at the end of April. In the first match, "The Guadeloupe Island Basketball team whipped the Dominica team 81-58 before a crowd of over 600 persons on the S.M.A. Court…" (Dominica Chronicle, 6th May 1967). The scores in the second match were Guadeloupe 63, Dominica 50.
Six months later, Dominica hosted Barbados' League Champions, 7-Up Giants, who defeated Dominica's 1967 League Champions Atoms 58-41, followed by Dominica's State Team 50-39 on the second night.
However on Night 3, Dominica's Team "thrilled their supporters with a 62-51 victory over 7-Up Giants from Barbados in a well-played and very exciting match on the S.M.A. Court…" (Dominica Chronicle, 25th October 1967).
Shooting and rebounding statistics were kept in both tournaments, and that feature may have been a first for Dominica.
Next issue: Segment B (1968, 1969)