Darren Hunte scored a team-high 22 points as Station Hill Cavaliers defeated Barbados Lumber Company Lakers 74-68 in the Co-operators General Insurance-sponsored Barbados Amateur Barbados Association’s Premier League at the Wildey Gymnasium last night.
Hunte’s performance, if not numerically, eclipsed that of Jimal Singh who had a game-high 26 for the Lakers. But Singh not get the level of support enjoyed by Hunte, especially down the final stretch when it mattered most. The win put the Cavs back at the top of the standings with the Lakers.
In the other game played Burger King Clapham defeated VYB Patriots 66-56.
As expected last night’s encounter was a close one that went down to the wire with Lakers enjoying an initial lead before losing it and having to play catch-up for large portions of the pulsating match-up. The scores after the first three quarters was 18-19, 40-30 and 58-55. Cavaliers have so far played ten games in the League season and have won eight and lost two for their 18 points.
Despite their loss Lakers are also on 18 points and are ahead of third placed Urban Vybz St John Sonics who have 16 points while Orange Three Pinelands and Hilton Resort Warriors are tied on 15 points respectively in fourth position on the table.
Hunte received excellent offensive help from Jamai Puckerin who netted 15 points. There were also ten points each from Joel Hunte and Stephen Ottley. Conversely, outside of Singh who played for an overall 31:49 minutes, Kregg Jones was the only player to reach double figures with ten for Lakers. It was that offensive shortfall that probably caused Lakers the game.
Jason Smith signalled Cavaliers’ intentions early with a three-point shot to start the game. It seemed both sides were focused on hitting the big threes because Singh netted three of his five three-pointers in what was a keenly contested opening quarter.
The score read 18-16 to Lakers with just under a minute left to play when a seemingly pumped up Singh was left unmarked by Cavaliers’ defence and he nailed another three-point shot from the left side that allowed Lakers to take the one point lead 19-18 at the close of the first quarter.
Lakers continued from where they left off by keeping Cavaliers on the backfoot but the men from Station Hill had other plans and decided to up their defence and smothered Lakers’ offensive efforts. Singh received a technical foul from referee Andrew Mayers and had to leave the court at 5:50 minutes on the board in the second half when Ottley of Cavaliers dropped his knee in Singh’s neck and the short lad responded in an aggressive manner.
At that stage of the game Lakers were up 28-24 and it seemed Singh’s aggression rubbed off on Ottley who scored two consecutive three pointers to give Cavaliers the lead 30-28 and from there on they ensured to extend their lead by ten points 40-30 at half-time.
In the third period Lakers managed to bring themselves back into the game thanks to a collective team effort. A somewhat off-colour Keefe Birkett had nine points in the game. Jones along with Singh who seemed to have recovered well from his earlier mishap, cut the deficit down by one at 42-43. It seemed however that every time Lakers got close Cavaliers found a way to keep the advantage and with just a few seconds left to play in the penultimate quarter Hunte with a two point shot took them on to 58. But Singh with a never-say-die attitude wormed his way through Cavaliers’ defence for two consecutive layups that took Lakers’ score to 55.
A three-point deficit isn’t anything for which to panic and Lakers knew that and locked the scores 66-66 and Birkett netted two free throws before fouling out of the contest. However, Cavaliers through their more experienced players such as Puckerin who had six points in the latter stages of the game allowed Station Hill to hang on for the win.
Burger King Clapham Bulls won their match against VYB Patriots played after leading 24-14, 36-26, 52-41 at the end of three periods. Guard Rahim Gibbons and Daniel Lovell top-scored with 14 points each while Halley Franklyn and Kodia Leacock had ten each. Meanwhile for Patriots Julian Walcott 18 and Jehnard Brewster ten were the only players to reach double figures.