For the second time in succession the Ganta United Methodist School has lost the reactivated Upcountry National Basketball Championship. The gold and blue boys from Ganta City, Nimba County bowed 47-50 points to Margibi-based Booker Washington Institute or BWI on Sunday, 25 November in the grand final of the competition.
The two day tournament was staged at the William V.S Tubman Gray United Methodist High School Gymnasium in Gbarnga, Bong County. Ganta United Methodists, who are giants of the game in Nimba, similarly lost the gigantic trophy last year when they suffered defeat at the hands of Catholic-run St. Martin’s High School.
The Booker Washington Institute, who reached the final thru a protest filed against St. Martin’s after losing a semifinal match to them proved too tough for the Methodists in a match that drew huge spectators.
The Upcountry National Basketball Championship, exclusively organized for high schools across the country was introduced here by a team of U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers. The game was famous in Liberia some years back as a talent-hunt event for top-notch basketball teams participating in the National Club Championships in Monrovia.
Under the administration of former Youth and Sports Minister Tornolah Varpilah, the Liberian Government partnered with the Liberia Basketball Association to re-launch the tournament. The re-launch is credited to Dr. Harold McGowan, a legendary Peace Corps volunteer, who inaugurated the tournament about three decades ago.
Eleven selected schools from six counties competed for the top prize. Counties whose schools participated in the tournament included, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Nimba and Bong.
Participating schools were: Suah Memorial, Grand Gedeh; Booker Washington Institute, Margibi; Zorzor Central High, Lofa; and Ganta United Methodist,Nimba.
Others were: Bishop Juwle, Grand Gedeh; Gboveh High, Bong; and William V.S Tubman Gray, Bong; host.
The remaining schools included: St. Martin’s (2012 winners & defending Champions /Bong); St. Mary’s Nimba; Voinjama Multilateral High, Lofa; and W.L. Brumskine High, Grand Bassa.
The Upcountry Basketball National Championship aims to promote sports in rural communities, where players have little or no opportunity of participating in the National Club Championships in Monrovia.