However you want to look at it, the second clashing of heads between Father O'Connell Science College Minna, Niger State and Gen. Murtala Muhammed College Yola, Adamawa State in the MILO Basketball Championship finals was an affair for sweaty palms and racing hearts as we watched at the edges of our seats.

Last year, the teams had met in the semi-finals where the boys from Niger served up a clear defeat with a margin of 20 points. This time, the boys from Adamawa came ready for revenge. The previous champions would have to dig deep into their team spirit to hold their own on the court they once reigned supreme.

And if you thought were at the edge of our seats only for the male category, well think again. In another twist of fate, St. Jude’s Girls Secondary School, Amarata, Bayelsa State would meet their rivals from last year Yejide Girls Grammar School, Ibadan, Oyo State in the finals, again! We couldn’t have written this in a movie script! Words are simply not sufficient to describe the fire of passion ignited when champions with a history of encounter clash yet again in such a high stake game.

The Adamawa boys kicked off proceedings scoring the first point of the game after great defensive work. They carried on, charging into a six point lead against their opponents who though appeared to have controlled the game better, missed a couple shots to their detriment. The Niger boys would not relent closing the first quarter with a 12-point lead.

Father O'Connell Science College Minna, Niger State continued from where they left off in the second quarter, but their opponents from Adamawa had began to push back. The result of this was reducing the 12 point lead and regaining game control. By the time Yakubu Ibrahim of Adamawa scored the first three-pointer of the game, the tides were starting to turn.

Little into the third quarter, they bridged the gap and took the lead. The boys from Niger responded in kind, attacking off a rebound to level the score yet again before getting ahead with awarded free throws. They ended the third quarter with a 43-37 late lead.

The fourth quarter started with a lag from the Niger boys costing them many opportunities, but with another three points from Ibrahim of Adamawa, they were level again with just less than five minutes on the clock. In true Hollywood movie fashion, a needless foul by Ismailia of Adamawa gave Niger a free throw which they missed. Wait for it...would you believe that after that, they drew yet another foul to get yet another free throw.

This time, they would not miss it. For the rest of the game, they would protect the margin with their lives retaining the trophy they won in 2017 with 60 - 59 on the scoreboard. Spectators could just about remain seated as this heart wrenching final came to its ultimate conclusion.

For the Girl’s final, St. Jude's Girls Secondary School, Bayelsa State faced off with Yejide Girls Grammar School, Ibadan in the 2018 MILO Basketball Championship.

The girls from Bayelsa sprinted into a quick lead reeling off rebounds and countering to score some points. Victory would not be easy as the girls from Ibadan would not let them advance too far. By the time the first quarter was over, only a 6-point gap stood between the teams.

St. Jude's Girls started the second quarter in better spirits holding onto the ball but missing most of their shots in a bitter twist of fate. Yejide Girls would prove themselves efficient, making their opponents pay for their missed chances to extend their lead.

For the last two quarters, both teams would fall into a state of competitive parry with the girls from Ibadan making a comeback that was too little too late. The game ended at 23-15 in favour of St. Jude's Girls Secondary School of Bayelsa allowing them retain their title as MILO Basketball champions.

Breathtaking games; we wished they could go on forever!

This is a featured post.