Failing to match up to eternal rival Prempeh College’ achievement of winning a silver medal definitely doesn’t sit well with this great institution but that cannot take away the fact that Opoku Ware School (OWASS) is one of the top five high schools in Ghana basketball annals.
No other event has come to symbolize what the school’s basketball program means to the institute than the Sprite Ball Championship which will be celebrating its tenth edition in January, 2017 as OWASS is a two time bronze medalist of the prestigious event.
The Ashanti Region’s love affair with Sprite Ball came with a statement in 2010 when Prempeh College and Yaa Asantewaa Girls Senior High School won silver and bronze in the boys and girls divisions respectively.
It went a notch higher with T.I.Ahmediyya winning the girls division in 2014 and 2015 but in both years, Opoku Ware came third. Missing out on the title to rivals Mfantsipim School and Keta Senior High School in those “bronze” years, the school believed at the third time of asking, it would finally break the mold and make the final game in 2016 as the side boasted a stellar collection of players who had a taste of the tournament prior. Emmanuel Opare, Harris Awudu, Nana Agyei Fritete, Elorm and Captain Roelle Hany were joined by Canadian-born Shooting Guard Emmanuel “Ghost” Agyapong to form a formidable side that easily made the national championship game.
After beating out competition in the region including Prempeh, OWASS made light work of Group C opponents Ghana Secondary Technical School (G.S.T.S.), Aggrey Memorial Mount Zion and St. Thomas Aquinas to qualify for the elite eight where the side defeated Koforidua Secondary Technical to face off against familiar foe Mfantsipim in the final four.
That game will turn out to be an absolute classic as OWASS was seconds away from making their dream come true as the side led 23-22 before the game’s umpire called for an Mfantsipim foul that Kofi Aboagye Acheampong converted one of two from the free throw line to send the game into overtime sparking massive protests from the bench and old students who thronged the El Wak Stadium.
Matters were never settled and the side wasn’t the same as they went on to lose the game and against Pope John High School for the bronze medal and ending the team’s medal run in the process. Agyapong’s infectious play earned him a High School Player of the Year nomination at the Ghana Basketball Award joining former player Rudolf Retting Akrasi (in 2013) as standouts from the school who have been nominated for the prestigious award.
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (K.N.U.S.T.) Basketball leader Kwame Akrasi is another prominent name that featured for the school.
He has since carried his supreme play to the tertiary level where he guided KNUST to narrowly miss out on the UPAC (Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges) Basketball Championship. Opoku Ware’s team has been blessed with a steady hand of support from old students (Akatakyie) and parents most notably Haidab Hany-father of Roelle- who has over the years feted the team with money and accessories including balls and sneakers.
His 2000 Ghana Cedis promise to the team had they won the championship and playing a key role in recruiting Opare and Harris to the school is proof of his immense contribution to the school. Opoku Ware School’ light is not about to fade any time soon; on the contrary, the decade celebration of Sprite Ball will only make the light shine brighter than ever before.
All hail Opoku Ware School.