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Tinian clinches PSS basketball title

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TINIAN High School claimed this year’s Public School System Boys High School Basketball League championship in a hard-fought game against Mount Carmel School, 38-36, on Saturday at the Marianas High School Gym.

Tinian’s Delacruz performs a running shot over an MCS defender during  Saturday’s championship game of the PSS Boys High School Basketball League at the MHS Gym.  Photo by James F. Sablan Jr. 

Prior to the title game, Tinian was in full throttle, easing its way through the playoff rounds. After sending Saipan International School to the loser’s bracket, Tinian edged MCS, 29-27, to secure a spot in the semifinals.

Tinian’s players then pummeled Agape Christian School, 21-13, giving themselves time to rest while waiting for their opponent in the finals.

Despite its loss to Tinian, MCS fought its way back into contention. MCS eliminated Marianas High School Varsity, 25-15, took down Saipan Southern High School, 28-21, and outlasted ACS, 32-27, to set up a rematch with Tinian.

Despite playing four consecutive games, MCS still had the energy to go mano a mano against the well-rested Tinian squad.

Tinian took control at first with Sir Delacruz scoring three consecutive buckets, including a three-pointer to end the first half with Tinian in the lead, 12-8.

However, during the second half, MCS fortified its defenses, forcing Tinian to commit several turnovers while MCS turned each successful stop into an offensive break. King ignited the rally with a shot from beyond the arc while Richardson was nearly unstoppable, contributing 11 points to give MCS the lead.

Tinian tried to stay alive but failed to keep up, losing to MCS, 23-29, and forcing a third and final game for the championship.

This time around, Tinian played smarter on defense while staying out of foul trouble. With more fouls to give, the Tinian players were able to apply more pressure, turning defense into offense with Delacruz leading the break once again, putting up eight points early in the first half. He continued to deliver seven more to give his team the advantage 25-19.

But MCS started to chip away the distance in the second half with teamwork, creating openings for Dela Cruz and Lajara to execute. Unfortunately for MCS, it could not stop Tinian’s momentum, and this time it was Epity who took control. His baby-hooks punished MCS and gave Tinian a two-possession lead.

MCS did close the gap thanks to Lajara’s output, but he was forced to sit out the remaining minute of the game after committing five fouls. Thanks to Epity’s inbound play, Tinian sealed the deal and won the championship, 38-36.


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