Keefe Birkett had been playing hero for Lakers Sports Club since the beginning of the season.
This time around though, he came up just short.
The Station Hill Cavaliers almost blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead, but just managed to hold on for the 80-77 win to hand Lakers their first loss of the Co-operators General Insurance BABA Premier League competition at the Barbados Community College last night.
The Cavs – who failed to score a field goal in the game’s final three minutes – also benefited from a bit of luck, as Birkett’s potentially game-tying three-pointer bounced off the back rim as time expired.
It was a crazy finish to a contest which the Cavs seemed to have wrapped up and in the bag, as they held a 74-61 lead with 6:07 remaining on the clock.
But a furious 16-4 run by the Lakers, fueled by Birkett and Sydney “Bouncer” Rowe brought the Husbands based team back into contention.
After Darren Hunte’s jumper pushed the score to 78-67 with 3:20 left in the game, the Cavs didn’t score another field goal during three-minutes of madness.
It allowed Lakers’ back into the ballgame, with Jamal Singh’s baseline jumper quickly followed by a layup from Rowe.
Birkett got in on the action too, scoring another layup before Derek Browne split his two free throws tobring Lakers within three (78-75) with 58 seconds to go.
Birkett then made it a one-point game, scoring both of his free throw attempts after being fouled attempting a layup.
Singh however, missed a wide open three-pointer which would have given Lakers the lead, forcing them to quickly foul the Cavs’ Saeed Norville who grabbed the rebound.
With eight seconds on the clock, the lanky Norville coolly stepped to the charity stripe and iced both of his free throws to extend the Cavs’ lead to three.
After a Lakers’ timeout, Birkett missed a good opportunity to force overtime after finding himself free off the inbounds play.
But his shot from the top of the key was just a bit too strong, bringing an end to the Lakers’ perfect start to the season.
Earlier, the game had started out at a furious pace with Birkett connecting on his first three shots as part of a quick 7-0 run by the Lakers in the game’s opening minutes.
The Cavs though, led by Lamar Grazette, mounted an 11-0 run of their own, only to watch Lakers ignite another 9-0 run.
Whenever it seemed as if one team was about to blow the game open – such as in the second quarter when Hunte’s layup gave the Cavs a 32-22 lead – Lakers responded with a run of their own to only trail by two (37-35) at the half.
For the winners, Hunte had a team-high 18 points, Jamai Puckerin added 16, Kevin Sealy had 11 and Grazette scored 10 points.
Birkett led all scorers with 26 points in a losing cause for Lakers. Rowe contributed 15 points and grabbed 10 boards, Singh scored 12 and Ormond Haynes had 11 points.
Hilton Resort Barbados Warriors are now the only unbeaten team in the league after registering a 77-71 win over Burger King Clapham Bulls in the evening’s first game.
Ricardo Toussaint led the charge for the Warriors with 16 points, Corey McDonald had 15, Trevor Simmons added 12 and Tremaine Shaw 10 to help Warriors improve to a league best 4-0.
For Clapham, who self-destructed in the second half after leading 36-28 at the break, Rahiim Gibbons scored 24 points, Kelan Phillips had 11, while Ramon Byer and Shawn Gaskin both added 10 points.