Ghana’s Eastern Region is yet to have a winner of the prestigious Sprite Ball Championship since its inception in 2007 and has grown over the years to become easily the biggest high school basketball championship in the nation and certainly one of the biggest in the West African sub-region.
Though the block is blessed with some of the biggest and most successful schools in Ghana in terms of academics, the institutions are yet to replicate such tremendous feat in the sports especially basketball with specific reference to the annual Sprite Ball Championship. Koforidua Secondary Technical School (K.S.T.S.) is the only school from the region to make it to the finals only for it to get beat by four time winners Mfantsipim School from Cape-Coast in the boys division.
Until the championship’s latest edition in January 2016, regional powerhouse Pope John Senior High had not made the final four in previous appearances. The side finished third by beating Opoku Ware School 26-19 to rank as the highest placed team from the region in the division. In the girls division, Nkwanta Senior High School ranks highest among the schools after placing third in the December 2008 edition. The only school from the region to match the achievement of the aforementioned schools is Oda Senior High School popularly known as ODASCO.
This great institution with the motto, “Knowledge, Truth, Service” placed third in the competition at the maiden edition in 2007 behind Achimota School and St. Augustine’s College. The side wasn’t fancied to be a factor in the tournament but an immeasurable force of will and discipline carried the side to finish way ahead of highly touted names.
Key to the successful run was Point Guard Benjamin “Skywalker” Debrah whose immaculate skill and hard drives to the basket caught the eye of many fans who began rooting for the side it move through the stages of the then December-held competition.
In true form, Debrah improved his overall play as he stepped up the educational ladder to the University of Education-Winneba. There, he teamed up with what has become one of the most feared sides in Ghana’s history alongside Meme Falconer, Emmanuel “Rubberman” Quaye, Frederick Yeboah and Josiah Karikari.
Since graduating, Debrah features for the Ghana Police Male Basketball Team teaming up with his rival from the Tertiary level (Accra Polytechnic), Emmanuel Dickson, to man the backcourt. The coed school has found little success in the girls division as the female side has not featured at the latter stages of the competition.
The team’s best performance came in the 2008 edition where Oda made it to the main championship final roster after surviving a grueling regional qualification phase only to be dumped out of the tournament in the first round without registering a win.
Not all turned out to be doom and gloom though as Point Guard Afia Kobi Agyemang moved on to greater heights by starring for the all conquering Accra Polytechnic and Braves of Customs side in the Accra Basketball League.
Sprite Ball’s tenth edition tips off in January 2017 and for Oda Senior High School, serving the Easts’ need for a championship rest on this former winner.