Of Atoms & Electrons(Part I)
Jump Ball No. 79. By Arlington James
In the world of science an atom is may times the size of an electron. And so it was with the Atoms and Electrons who ran our courts during the first decade of our "national" basketball league. However, they never competed against each other.
In the league's early days the number of teams in Division I (initially the only division) was relatively small, starting with 4 teams in the first year (1966), then increasing to 6 in '67, increasing further to 8 in '68, but being brought back to 4 in 1969 with the introduction of a Division II. The size of Division I in 1970 remained at 4 teams.
Atoms, who debuted in the League's second year, went on to compete for four seasons while Electrons, who entered the league three years after Atoms' departure, competed during three seasons. Both teams captured championships, and collectively this totaled three (3) pieces of glittering silverware - one League and two Knockout trophies.
So, let's peep through the basketball scope to get a closer view of the ATOMS, then the ELECTRONS.
ATOMS (1967-1970): Astaphans Atoms, a Roseau-based team comprising former St. Mary's Academy students made their grand entry into the basketball league in January 1967 together with another rookie team, Dominica Grammar School. The other teams in the single-division league were Argonauts, Citylites (first/1966 League champs), Limers (a team formed prior to the commencement of the League), and St. Mary's Academy (first/1966 Knockout Champs).
Atoms, the first sponsored team in the league, boasted star players and high-scorers such as McFord Zamore (Captain, throughout team's lifetime), George Daniel, Patrick Pemberton, Cuthbert Williams, Jim Murray, Benoit Sorhaindo, G. David, M. Thomas, C. Tumino, Peterson Grell. Tony Hypolite and possibly others s also who donned the team's uniform.
First Season: In Atoms' first year in the Dominica Amateur Sports Association (DASA) Basketball League they warned the other five teams in the league to take note as they went on to capture both League and Knockout championships that year. The League competition was played in two rounds.
They ended the 1967 League competition with at least 8 and possibly ten victories, inflicting some whippings along the way. For example, they crushed Argonauts 76-14 and later, 76-32. They also soundly flogged the DGS lads 67-27, and 64-37.
Continuing Journey: In succeeding seasons Atoms also swamped Falcons 78-12 and humiliated Argonauts again, this time with a 103-33 blow-out.
Atoms displayed their prowess until the arrival of Cardinals on the scene in 1968. And, for the records, the two championship trophies that Atoms captured in their debut year would be the only pieces of silverware standing in their trophy cabinet by the time they retired in 1970.
With Cardinals around this new team on the court went on to capture both League and Knockout championships in six (6) successive seasons, from 1968 through 1973.
It is interesting to note that in March 1968, during one of the Atoms-Cardinals encounters, "the S.M.A. Grandstand" collapsed under the weight of enthusiastic fans. Atoms lost that match 41-51.
Further, in February 1969 Atoms avenged the defeats that they suffered at the hands of Cardinals the year before, defeating them 50-39 in the first league match of that season. The matches between these two teams always provided great entertainment for the fans, and were often described in the press as "exciting".
Atomites Representing Dominica: During Atoms' 4-year history some of their players got selected onto the Dominica State Team, from the latter's inception in 1967, through 1970. These include McFord Zamore, George Daniel who went on to coach the State Team some years later, Cuthbert Williams, and Peace Corps Volunteer 'Jim' Murray. Cuthbert and McFord were featured in Parts I and II respectively of Jump Ball article No. 69, "Dominica's Elite Basketballers" in 2020, while George was featured in "The Real Doctors in Dominica's Basketball" (Jump Ball article No. 20, Segment B, 2017).
During the 1967 through 1970 period the Dominica State Team was quite busy, playing locally and overseas versus teams from Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, USA and Trinidad & Tobago, and the "Atomites" on the State Team did Dominica proud!
Atoms' Final Year: Atoms played at least seven (7) games in the 1970 basketball season which comprised a two-round League and a Knockout competition.
In possibly their second-round match against rivals Cardinals, The New Chronicle of 18th April 1970 reported that Atoms lost by 1 point, 41-42 in the best and most exciting match of the 1970 season.
Six weeks later, that newspaper noted that at the end of the 1970 League Atoms, with 3 Wins & 3 Losses, jointly placed 2nd in the competition together with St. Mary's Academy.
Concludes next edition.