Basketball Near Bout Sable (Part I)
Jump Ball No. 55. By Arlington James
Bout Sable is a long, black-sand, turtle-nesting and once popular beach situated along the scenic coastline of La Plaine, one of Dominica's basketball centres.
Sports is very much alive in the La Plaine community which has been involved in competitive basketball for about four decades now. This is manifested through participating in the national basketball league, organizing and staging their own community/district basketball league and other basketball competitions, hosting 'friendlies' and engaging other teams on their home court, and other such activities.
This agricultural village, where Bay Oil production is still an important economic activity, has been involved in the sport of basketball from the late 1970s, and one of the stalwarts in the sport in Dominica's south-east is Ronald 'Ron' Green.
Ron had moved back to La Plaine in 1978, and together with Phillip 'Murray' St. Jean (now deceased) they organised basketball in La Plaine and in the South-East. He is one of several politicians cum basketballers who were featured in the 5-segment Jump Ball article, 'From the Court to the Platform' which was published in The Sun newspaper in 2018.
So, even before taking a dip in one of La Plaine's five inviting rivers, or hiking to Sari-Sari Falls or Bolive Cascade & Pools in the heights of the village, let us take a short trek from 'Canada', Case O'Gowrie or Balizier down to La Plaine's basketball court.
Basketball first bounced off in La Plaine on a hard court that was constructed near the then La Plaine Government School – since renamed Jones Beaupierre Primary School – shortly before the passage of Hurricane David in 1979. Interestingly, a few weeks after the completion of its construction the court served as a helicopter landing point for hurricane relief supplies for the village.
The person who is credited with introducing the sport of basketball to the village of La Plaine is Richard 'Richie' Joseph, a son of the soil who went on to play basketball in the national league with Grand Bay's Bata Pros; they played in the league's Senior Division. Richie would later return to play with his home village's team, although in a lower Division.
Within months after the construction of the hard court the inaugural La Plaine Basketball League tipped off, entertaining villagers and basketball enthusiasts from the village. Importantly, within three years of the court's construction, La Plaine 'sent its first team to town' to compete in the national league. Additional information about the La Plaine Basketball League will be presented in Section III of this article.
LA PLAINE TEAMS IN NATIONAL LEAGUE - THE FORMATIVE YEARS: To date, La Plaine has produced only five teams that have competed in two of the Divisions of the national league. The first jump shots were taken in 1982 by SUNS, which played in the lower (Junior) of the two men's divisions then.
In one of their matches that year, Suns lost to Green City of Roseau, 50-77, but not without Richie putting up a fearless fight. According to The New Chronicle of 1st May 1982, "the experienced Richie Joseph, the former South City Pros Star, dominated Suns play and matched Green City point for point. Joseph's form created a minor scare but did not prevent Green City from eventually winning the game. Richie Joseph compiled 27 points for the Suns."
Original players in Sun's first years include Ron Green, Clovel David, Errol Austrie, Richie Joseph and Raymond Austrie from La Plaine; Henry 'Hendo' Hilaire from Delices was also a founding member while Ron served as the team's Coach.
After the formative years La Plaine's team stayed off the Dominica Amateur Basketball Association (DABA) court briefly, but returned in the late-1980s. In Reunion Year (1988) and the Year of Environment & Shelter (1989), this south-eastern village was represented in the league by BULLETS.
Playing in Division II (Intermediate Division) in 1988, Bullets did not fare out too well in the League competition. They placed 6th from seven teams in Zone B, ending the season with six defeats and not even 'breaking their egg'. They scored an aggregate of 264 Pts and conceded 420, including three blow-outs:- 101-60 from Soufriere's Clippers; 82-49 from Trafalgar's Prowlers; and 99-73 from Dominica Grammar School.
However, even with their not-so-favourable showing, Bullets placed 3rd in Free-Throw shooting in their Zone in 1988, scoring 26 from their 67 attempts including 11/28 as their best game result from the 'foul line'. That year Bullets' Collin Lestrade was the 10th highest aggregate-scorer in Division II with 88 points (17.6 Pts/gm).
(To be Continued)