Lakers Sports Club might have lost some big names during the offseason, but Keefe Birkett certainly didn’t lose his scoring touch.
Led by a 24-point performance from their star shooting guard, a new-look Lakers side trounced Urban Vybz St Johns Sonics 73-47 when the Co-operators General Insurance BABA Premier League competition continued at the Wildey Gymnasium last night.
There has been much talk and speculation surrounding the Husbands, St James-based Lakers –– last year’s losing league finalists –– after they lost the services of Andre Lockhart, Adrian Allman, Mark Bridgeman and Jamar King to the neighbouring Warrens Sports Club.
Some people have even gone as far as to suggest that the four-time champs are relegation bound. Don’t tell that to Birkett though.
The sharp-shooting guard connected on three of his first four three point attempts to help Lakers blow open the contest from the opening quarter. With the assistance of Ormond Haynes, who accounted for six early points, Lakers stormed out to an early 12-2 lead, as Sonics’ star player, Akeem Marsh struggled to find a rhythm with his jump shot.
That lead quickly grew to 16 (28-12) with Birkett connecting on another long trey to start the second quarter.
A red hot Birkett continued his assault on St John’s defence –– who were guilty of giving the national player way too much space –– with another three pointer, followed by a layup by veteran Sydney “Bouncer” Rowe pushing the score to 41-20 at the half.
And as if Birkett’s onslaught wasn’t enough, new acquisition and former Combermere guard Jimal Singh got in on the act in the second half.
Singh hit two baseline treys, which sandwiched another from Birkett, as Lakers’ lead ballooned up to 30 (56-36) with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Marsh and Shane Whittaker led a brief Sonics fightback during the final minutes of that period, with the latter hitting two jumpers to help reduce the deficit to 22 heading into the final quarter.
Two quick buckets from Rowe and Birkett, followed by two free throws from Derek Browne however, quickly put an end to that run, which effectively led to Sonics emptying their bench in the final minutes.
Singh, Browne, Rowe and Haynes each chipped in with ten points, with Rowe also grabbing ten rebounds.
Marsh ended with a double double of 12 points and 12 boards, while Whittaker was the only other double digit contributor for Sonics with 11 points.
Earlier in the night’s first game, Junior Moore hit three crucial free throws in the final 30 seconds to help Orange 3 Pinelands edge Burger King Clapham Bulls 65-61 in a close encounter.
Rahiim Gibbons had seemed to give Bull’s the win when he hit a three-pointer with just under a minute left in the game.
But Charles Vanderpool converted a layup at the other end, before the Bulls’ Sean Parris committed an unnecessary foul on Moore, who calmly went to the charity stripe and converted both shots to put the game out of Clapham’s reach.
Moore had a team-high 21 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Ramon Simmons scored 14 points, Halley Franklyn added 13 and Vanderpool finished with tem points and 11 boards.
For the losers Gibbons scored a game-high 22 points, while Ramon Byer contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds.