By Christopher Tobutt
It was a fitting end to an amazingly exciting three days of elite university basketball when Kansas State Wildcats against the LSU Tigers 61-59 in the Cayman Islands Classic Championship. The game featured 8 lead changes and 4 ties, and was especially exciting because the Wildcats trailed by 9 points at half time, and it looked as though LSU might win. But in the end the Wildcats beat the Tigers by two points, in the last five seconds before the buzzer. The Cayman Islands Classic is an annual preseason men’s division 1 college basketball tournament. In its fourth year, the 12-game, three-day tournament, is regarded as one of the most exciting early-season tournaments
The Classic featured a total of eight top university basketball teams from across the US, and attracted over a thousand visitors for the three days beginning on Monday 21 November at the John Gray High School Gymnasium. Nevada took third place, LSU second, and Kansas State, first.
The tournament featured a talent pool from eight universities, Akron, Illinois State, Kansas State, LSU, Nevada, Rhode Island, Tulane and Western Kentucky. Battling it out for one of the top places, Tulane and Western Kentucky had played earlier on Wednesday, and later in the evening Nevada and Akron.
Al Cross had come all the way from Frankfurt Kentucky to support the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, with his wife, his brother and his brother’s wife. “We are enjoying our visit to the Cayman Islands very much,” he said. Prestigious sporting events such as this are amazing for putting the Cayman Islands on the map for sports tourism.
It was a thrill, especially for Cayman’s young basketball players who practice down the parks week after week with their friends, to see such high level playing. Western Kentucky had an amazingly tall player, at 7 foot five inches who didn’t have to jump to block some of the shots, he just stretched out his long arms. On the first day of play, Illinois State played against LSU, with Akron playing against Western Kentucky at 1.30 p.m, and Nevada against Tulane at 5.00pm and Rhode Islands against Kansas State at 7.30.
Scott Warman, Bally Sports Midwest Studio Host and College Sports Play by Play Announcer said, “I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of this fantastic tournament. What has been built by all of those who are involved in the Cayman Islands Classic Tournament in just a few years is nothing short of incredible. ‘Jess Settles, College Basketball Analyst said, “word has spread quickly throughout the college basketball community that the Cayman Islands Classic is a holiday tournament you want your teams to compete in and your fans to experience. In only a few years, the Cayman Islands Classic has become one of college basketball’s premier events.”