City Recreation & PAL’s Final Four hoops championship thriller

BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — ST. PETERSBURG — Four recreation basketball team finalists from St Petersburg’s recreation centers and the Police Athletic League (PAL) faced off June 13 to claim bragging rights to the junior league city basketball championship. Two male and two female teams provided non-stop thrills for parents and supporting fans at the Gibbs campus gymnasium of St. Petersburg College.

The girls’ basketball teams playing for the championship were Campbell Park Recreation Center coached by Ed Johnson and the PAL girl squad led by Officer David Lopez. For the boys, Campbell Park coached by Tim Murray faced off against the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Center (TJJ) squad, coached by Bernard Reedy.

From the opening buzzer the girls provided lip biting excitement and tension as Campbell Park launched an early offensive attack to take the lead 13-6. Likewise, TJJ pulled out to an 18-2 lead five-and-a-half minute into the second quarter.

The competitive championship atmosphere led to the emergence of team leaders on all teams. Bree Wilson (10 pts.), Makayla Johnson (8 pts.), and Myesha Hill (6 pts.) of Campbell Park, and Elizabeth “Little Bit” Garcia (10 pts.) of PAL provided the offensive firepower in the girls’ championship game.

At one point in the fourth quarter, PAL girls’ team surged back with seven points making the score 27-24. They were just three points from tying the game when Johnson was fouled. Johnson scored the final point of the game ending in a 28-24 win for the girls from Campbell Park.

During the boys’ championship game, Omario Sherrod (17 pts.) and Ray Penny (15 pts.) of TJJ put the game out of reach with a 21-6 score by half time. Marques Alexander (10 pts.), the high scorer of Campbell Park, could have used additional firepower help. TJJ won the boys championship 43-17.

Although only two teams left the gym as champions, all four were embraced as winners. PAL officers and their superiors lined up to form a victory lap where every player of each team strolled down, received high fives and took a picture with Assistant Police Chief Luke C. Williams.

“We hope to revive this activity to where it expands to games with other recreational teams throughout Pinellas County,” said Carlos Daniels, one of the organizers of the event.

Daniels stated that expanding such a program would provide a positive environment for middle school aged children to participate and compete in.

Campbell Park Recreation Center (Girls)

  • Makayla Johnson
  • Myesha Hill
  • Jo’Shauntye Thomas
  • Daja Smith
  • Bree Wilson
  • Curnecia Martin

PAL (Girls)

  • Laniah Fuller
  • Leilani Diggs
  • Trinity Smith
  • Elizabeth “Little Bit” Garcia
  • Jakayla Danford
  • Haley Vaugh
  • Annie Garcia
  • Charniece Ford
  • Imani Pennywell

Thomas Jet Jackson Recreation Center (Boys)

  • Alvin Jones
  • Toey Jones
  • Omario Sherrod
  • Corte McKenzie
  • Saxon Scott,
  • Trevose Jones,
  • Allen Ray Brown      
  • Zayed Williams
  • Kendauis Cummham

Campbell Park Recreation Center (Boys)

  • Cale Grant
  • Jervis Hunter
  • Jayden Daniels
  • Demetrius Macree
  • Jabori Huff
  • Elgin Drayton
  • Marques Alexander
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