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SCQ Team rises to Top 3

The JC School Challenge Quiz Team did us proud.

The preparation for the 2023-24 Schools’ Challenge Quiz season started early in March 2023. Having bowed out of the competition in mid February 2023, ignominiously losing in the 2nd round to neophytes Montego Bay High, the boys were disappointed and knew that they would have to put in an abundance of work to reap any modicum of success.

The first major decision was to move forward with a new Quiz coach in Chanarie Lindsay. Mr Lindsay is a former SCQ champion who embodies hard work as being the bread and butter to quiz success. As a JC old boy with a blue-collar mentality, Mr. Lindsay was the right coach at the right time. With a background in law enforcement and a passion for quiz, he immediately started training to familiarize himself with the team strengths and weaknesses. Understanding that adapting to change could be a challenge, the boys came together and positively responded to the new coach’s guidance. That paved the way for a burgeoning relationship built on mutual trust, respect and understanding.

Team Captain Jaheem Khouri notes, “We were disappointed in the way we lost last season and collectively as a team, we vowed not to let the same feat befall us, so we instinctively embraced the coach and heeded to his demands.”

Training began in early March 2023 with the same five boys – Khouri, vice-captain Marvin Whyte, and team members – Jamarli Banton, Russell Hewitt and Mason-Jai Edwards.  Expect for Khouri who was preparing for external CSEC exams, all members were 4th formers, which facilitated having sufficient time to focus on training. This renewed start, however welcomed, posed a challenge due to the fact that 3 of the 5 boys live outside of Kingston and training had to end at 5pm to provide sufficient time for the boys to get home.

To mitigate this, the coach requested camp as a long term solution. However, in the interim, each boy received study materials to consume in their down time. For the coach, he knew he would have to trust them to study their materials. Likewise, the players had to trust the coach that his instructions would guide them to an improved and higher level in quiz. This early level of mutual trust was necessary as the boys were able to balance quiz and school work, maintaining their status as Honour Roll students in the process.

After end of year exams, the team looked forward to having summer quiz camp at the College. This was the long-term solution that the coach, managers and parents were waiting for. Starting in early July and continuing to mid August, the five boys were allocated dorm space in the dormitory which facilitated long and arduous training. They dissected past questions and learned different strategies in understanding and forecasting questions. They also learned the importance of time management in all three sections of the match. More importantly, however, each player knew he had to earn his place in the team as 2 junior members showing potential were also in training. Furthermore, there were sotto voce conversations of recruiting new players. In the end, the summer camp was productive, the boys felt accomplished, but the coach was not satisfied as to where he wanted them to be tactically and adroitly.

Summer camp ended and it was time for the boys to begin back to school preparations. When school resumed, the program faced the old issue of not having camp as there was no space in the dormitory to house them. Pressure mounted as training was only 2 hours a day during the week. This was far from sufficient to be competitive against schools that were already in camp and training continuously. Another plea for camp was made and in November 2023, a room was prepared to house the boys on a permanent basis. This was a big win for the program, as training could go on much longer than before, and the boys could be better molded. A new and routine training schedule was established to account for classes and time to study. Incrementally, they became a different team as they were now more knowledgeable, more skillful and sharper in response. They felt accomplished, yet once again, Coach Lindsay knew he had more work to do. As such, he decided to test their mettle by playing practice matches Meadowbrook, KC, St. Jago, Holy Childhood, Calabar, Manchester High, and Dinthill. Surprisingly, JC left an impression upon these teams, who became even more curious about our training and wondered if we had the same team from last year. After these series of practice matches, the coach decided to limit the number of practice matches to competitive schools like St Jago and Calabar. This paid off as the team grew stronger in knowledge, tenacity and temerity just in time for the start of the season.

Having dropped from 12 to 13 seed, we had a early first round match up with Bridgeport High. This match highlighted that the boys were still rusty and needed more time getting acclimated to the studio settings. Despite not demonstrating their true potential by missing some easy questions, the match ended 37-17, setting up a second round match against former champions Glenmuir.

The Glenmuir match was closer than we expected, as JC trailed Glenmuir at the end of the first and second sections,  5-7, and 22-33 respectively. In the third section, JC demonstrated their superior buzzer strength to surpass Glenmuir and win the match 31-18 to book a third round match up with pre-season favourites Munro College.

The pre-match chatter by Munro brought an added level of fervour, tenacity and temerity to JC. Seeded number 3, Munro had threatened to dominate JC. JC did not take the threat lightly and Coach and the boys planned and executed a counter-offensive strategy. JC won the toss and decided to take the second question in order to track the line of questions being asked, and also capitalize upon Munro’s errors. The first section ended with JC trailing 5-7. The second section (minutes) was the difference. Munro got 20 points and JC got 27 points to lead Munro 32-27 going into the buzzer. With Munro trailing they became desperate and erratic in the buzzer, while JC remained composed to amass a 38-23 with a 90 seconds remaining. JC thwarted Munro s attempted comeback to win the match 34-27, setting up a quarter-final showdown with our neighbours and former champions, Campion College.

The match against Campion was a best of 3 series. JC’s confidence was now on a high after the Munro match. The boys knew if they beat Campion in the first two matches and there would not be a need to have a 3rd match. In fine style, they dispatched Campion back to Matilda’s Corner winning 23-15, and 34-27 respectively, setting up a semi-final match up with defending champions St Jago.

The highly anticipated match up against St Jago was the buzz in quiz circles. Can JC defeat the defending champions? It was JC first semi-final berth in 31 years, but these boys were fearless and welcomed the duel. It was the match they’ve been training for since last summer. It was a best of three match up, and JC entered the match with strong hopes of winning the first match. Au contraire, JC committed a series of simple errors, and with no sympathy from our opponents, lost the match 13-39.

In the second match, pundits gave JC no chance of winning. JC was staring at defeat and exit from the competition. Trailing 32-37 and 20 seconds remaining, JC pulled off one of the most remarkable and historic comeback in the 55 year history of the competition. With 3 clutch correct buzzes, JC unearthed its deus ex machina to win 38-37, setting up a do-or-die showdown to advance to the final. The dénouement of this match is one that will be talked about for a long time.

With momentum changed and a recharged boost of energy, JC entered the deciding match knowing their opponents are vincible. Entering the buzzer JC trailed 23-28, and displayed feline patience waiting to seize upon a golden opportunity to win the match. With the scores concaved to 23-24, the opportunity presented itself, but with an overabundance of caution, JC missed two clear questions to change the trajectory of the match. Then with the time clock winding down, we made 2 incorrect buzzes to drop to 19, losing the match 19-26 and setting up a deflating third place playoff match against Titchfield High.

The consolation match against Titchfield was like a practice match. Reserve player and avid researcher Rusell Hewitt was inserted into the starting lineup. It was a wire to wire victory for JC with the score ending on 39-31.

At the grand finals, the boys received third place medals with baskets. Overall, they played 9 matches and won 7, losing twice against competition winners St Jago. It is a season to be remembered and raised the banner for greater accomplishment for Jamaica College in School Challenge Quiz. With all players returning, 2025 will be interesting. Team Captain Khouri promised that next season they won’t be watching the finals, as they’ll be in the studio playing to win JC’s second title since 1987.

Report by Captain Wayne Harris

Click on the image to the left for the recap video