As the most successful High School Basketball Team in Ghana watched on as bitter rivals St. Augustine’s College run down the competition in 2016, many can be sure this is certainly not the last time we hear of Mfantsipim School.
2016 was meant to be another stepping stone for the boys in red and black to lay claim to another set of back to back wins at Ghana’s pre-eminent high school basketball tournament-Sprite Ball Championship after blitzing Keta Secondary School in the previous year to win an unprecedented fourth title at the Championship.
However, the script didn’t go as planned as “Botwe” lost 37-22 to St. Augustine’s College in the final, lost out on the individual awards in the tourney and the year’s Ghana Basketball Awards held in early August. But as the sun continues to set on the year, the desire for redemption keeps rising, keeps burning inside to reclaim its’ rightful spot on the podium.
In the early years of the Championship, Mfantsipim was neither feared nor a contender but all that changed in 2011 as a talented group of youngsters broke Ghana’s oldest high school’s jinx in the tourney by claiming a sensational win over Prempeh College.
Fielding an elite roster including Julian Morgan, George Poku-Pare and Edem Quist proved to be the main guys for the job as they formed a strong fulcrum that the foundation for a long storied showing in the event for many years to come, was built on.
The trio ignited a three peat run lifting the title in 2011, 2012 and 2013 keeping the trophy for keeps in the last year of the magnificent run that is yet to repeated by another school in the male division. Like the great Lakers dynasty of the early 2000’s who won three consecutive titles but fail to win a fourth after losing out to San Antonio Spurs, a fourth straight title campaign proved futile as the team got outdone by Keta to miss out on a podium finish for the first time in four years.
Circumspection, tougher training regimen and massive commitment to recruiting some of the best players in the nation resulted in a quick return to the top as the side made good on their promise to revenge by winning the 2015 edition in domineering fashion. Parading a deep roster with the likes of Elorm Dzissah, Daniel Owusu and Mishael Jamani Salifu, a fourth title in five years cemented Mfantsipim’s position as the most successful team in the Championship.
Regional female contemporaries Aggrey Memorial Mount Zion’s remarkable run of six straight finals appearance and two wins pales in comparison to Botwe’s record of four wins in six finals appearances. Then the side failed to replicate its title winning feat the year after that primes the side for the awaited “Fifth”. With the likes of High School Player of the Year nominee Kofi Aboagye Acheampong on the roster for next year’s challenge, Mfantsipim is primed to repeat its revenge feat of 2014 come January, 2017.
It must be noted only once has the side missed out on a podium finish since 2011 and the main reason behind the success story is the commitment of Mfantsipim’s hierarchy that has consistently pumped in millions of Cedis to the program.
The school that also goes by the moniker, “The School”- excuse my pun, has plans to build a standard basketball facility in the coming years but has not prevented the playing body from receiving the best of treatment akin to only Ghana’s foreign based football players. To see how much support the team gets one needs not look further as the team camped out for two weeks horning their skills in Ghana’s Eastern Region before this year’s Championship. During the tournament players were feted with the best dishes and treatment too.
Logistics aside, taking talented students on scholarships has been another key contributor to Mfantsipim’s unrivalled supremacy in the division. Scan through the legendary names that have donned the famous Red and Black jersey and it highlights the attention to detail the technical team headed by two time High School Coach of the Year Isaac Kobina Mensah pays to recruiting the best talent.
Daniel Owusu and Kofi Aboagye Acheampong are names that stood out in the junior high school division and were quickly picked up by the school. Unsurprisingly, the alumni (MOBA-Mfantsipim Old Boys Association) has chipped in fair share of assistance down the years as financial contributions have been the backbone of the sustained success enjoyed by the program.
That aside, the Sprite Ball Championship has been witness to hundreds of past students who throng the venue, be it El Wak Stadium or Aviation Social Center in the early years, giving words of wisdom and motivation to the young lads.
The script to this great institution’s famed basketball program is far from finished and claiming the “Fifth” at the milestone celebration of the championship is the next chapter.