After four years of trying, coach Martin Kitong’o guided his team, Sigalame Boys, to their maiden basketball Secondary School national games appearance where they gave the big boys a run for their money, reaching the finals.
The Extra-county Funyula-based school would have featured in the nationals last year after beating Chavakali 130-30 in the regional finals, but accusations of age cheating saw them disqualified.
However, they put the set back behind them and targetted this year’s competition in Embu, which they did after beating Mukumu Boys by a 28-point margin at the regional finals.
“We were coming to the nationals as tourists since we did not know what to expect. I had told the boys to play their game and have fun, we did not have a set target,” explained Kitong’o who had a squad of 12, half of them in form one.
Pooled against debutants Dagoretti, defending champions Laiser Hill and Alliance High the side won two matches in the group to proceed to the semis where they defeated Meru School 86-43 to cruise to the finals where they lost to Laiser Hill.
“When we won our first match against Dagoretti, we knew we could win the championship,” said the coach explaining that the said match postponing due to bad weather, when the teams were tied at 54 with three minutes to play, was a blessing to Sigalame as they made an informed strategy to win the repeat match 52-22.
After leading Laiser 28-20 into half time, the Western region representatives failed to hold on to their lead as the former’s experience came to play, out scoring the rookies 20-14 and 25-8 in the last two quarters for the 65-50 wi. “We lost concentration when they started catching up and made many basic mistakes.
Our inexperience at this stage played a part in our loss too, “ added Kitong’o who says reaching the finals is more than they expected and they are under no pressure even as they prepare for the East Africa games.
In rugby 15s coach Thomas Walgwe will go down in the history books of Upper Hill as the first coach who delivered the national title to the Nairobi sporting powerhouse.
The side met another finals debutant Menengai in a tightly contested clash that had to be decided in sudden death after a 12-all draw in regular play. Menengai lead 6-5 into the first half after two penalty kicks by Britton Maluki while Upper Hill unconverted try was made by John Junior.
On resumption, Britton made two successive penalty kicks for 12-point but Upper Hill’s Cedric Onyango made his side’s second try, with six minutes to play, which Daniel Katerega converted to level matters.
“It was a high risk high reward affair. We took many risks with the penalties and the scrum downs but I had faith in my team. This is a result of hard work.
It is difficult to beat a team twice in the nationals but I am happy we did it,” said Upper Hill captain Smith Ouma. Katerega handed Upper Hill the win in the 69th minute with a drop goal for three points, crushing Menengai’s dreams of lifting the title.
Last year’s winners Kakamega won the third place playoff to book a ticket to the East Africa games. In handball Kimilili Boys and Moi Girls Kamusinga reclaimed the titles they had lost in last year’s competitions while Kaya Tiwi and St Antony Kitale retained their titles in girls’ basketball and boys’ hockey respectively. Trans Nzoia Mixed were crowned the new girls’hockey champions.