Champions on Podiums: 1966-1978
JUMP BALL No. 88. By Arlington James
This edition of Jump Ball presents the League and Knockout champions in Dominica's national basketball league for the period extending from the league's inauguration in 1966, to 1978.
The League bounced off with only a single division, but during the 12-year period, this number was increased to two, and subsequently up to four divisions, a testimony of the then-growing popularity of the sport among the populace.
Division I League Champions: During the thirteen prize-giving ceremonies which were held by the basketball administration between 1966 and 1978, only four (4) teams stood at the top of the winners' podium to receive the Division I League Championship trophies. Citylites, in 1966 was the first team to raise such a trophy, and they were quickly followed by Atoms, in 1967.
Then, in debuted Cardinals into the arena in 1968. And "Caroni", as they were popularly called, soared and remained on the thermals for some time capturing the prestigious League Championship no less than eight (8) times during that 13-season period: six, consecutively from 1968 through 1973, then 1975 and 1977!
Other senior teams to capture League championships during the period were Pros (1974), and Flames who raised silverware twice (1976, 1978).
Division I Knockout Champions: A school team was the first competitor to capture the DASA Basketball Knockout Championship when St. Mary's Academy performed that feat in 1966. However, they were unable to successfully defend their title in 1967, giving up space on the podium to Atoms.
Next, Cardinals, who had set an enviable record in the League competition during the period, demonstrated to all and sundry why they were christened "Kings of Dominica's basketball" by capturing the Knockout Championship eight times: consecutively from 1968 through 1973, then 1975 and 1976!
Also sharing the limelight during the period were Electrons (1974), and Flames (1977 and 1978).
Division Ii / Juniors League Champions: The Junior or Second Division was first introduced in 1969, the fourth year of the 'national league'. However, subsequently, there were some years when there was no junior division, and twice when there were Junior leagues but information concerning the champions was unavailable.
Falcons were the first Junior Division League Champion, and they captured the trophy in 1969. They too were unsuccessful in defending their championship title and so the following year they were succeeded by Panthers who bagged 'back-to-back' (consecutive) championships in 1970 and 1971.
Other Junior League champions for which information is available were Dominica Grammar School Stars (1976) and St. Mary's Academy II (1978). Junior Leagues were held in 1975 and 1977 but the information is unavailable. Furthermore, there was no such league in 1972, 1973, or 1974.
Division II / Juniors Knock-Out Champions: In their day, the Junior Division Basketball League brought its share of excitement to the basketball arena (initially SMA Hardcourt, then Windsor Park), and teams looked forward eagerly to the annual Knockout competition.
At least four, and possibly up to seven Junior teams won the DASA/DABA Knockout championship between 1969 and 1978. First on the podium was Falcons (1969), and they were succeeded by St. Mary's Academy II who grabbed consecutive championships in 1970 and 1971. They were followed by Bullets in 1976 and Pros Jr. in 1978.
Performing 'Doubles': Of the 36 teams which participated in the Basketball League between 1966 and 1978, four captured double championships, i.e. League and Knock-out in the same season.
Atoms (Division I) led the way in performing that feat, and this they did in 1967.
Next, Cardinals, playing in Division I stood way above everyone else with a whopping seven (7) double championships during the period, having captured those annually from 1968 through 1973, and again in 1975.
The only other team to perform the feat during the period was Flames (Division I), and they went up the winners' podium twice in 1978.
Falcons was the only Junior Division team to 'do the double' winning both trophies once, in 1969. The following year they stepped up to Division I.
Remarks: In the early days of Dominica's 'national' basketball league there were only two divisions, with two competitions run in each division. Of the 36 teams that donned uniforms and competed, championships were enjoyed by twelve in the two divisions combined. In Division I, Atoms, Cardinals, Citylites, Electrons, Flames, Pros, and St. Mary's Academy took home silverware whilst the Juniors Division saw Dominica Grammar School Stars, Falcons, Panthers, Pros Jr., and St. Mary's Academy standing on the podium and receiving their championship trophies.
Those teams have all retired from the national league, Pros (Senior) being the last to do so. However, currently, SMA and DGS compete in the Sports Division's Under-20 Basketball League.
Series will continue soon.