To say that Orange Three Pinelands’ 79-76 win over Station Hill Cavaliers was a nail-biting one would be an understatement.
It was a pulsating start to the Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Premier League best of five series final played last night at the Barbados Community College.
Pinelands led the first three quarters at 21-17, 44-32 and 62-51 over Cavaliers who displayed a never-say-die attitude and were always on their opponents’ heels.
In fact Cavaliers coached by Adrian Craigwell did well to come from behind and tie the score 76-76 with less than a minute and a half left to play in the four quarter. However those supporting the men in green were left disappointed when Derion Hurley, the youngest member of Pinelands senior team, made a great steal and run to the basket for an excellent layup followed by one of two free throws scored by point guard Jeremy ‘Bull’ Gill to clinch game one of the final.
Hurley played well for his eight points and was also strong on defence. But the men who made it into double figures for Pinelands were Gill with 20 points inclusive of four three pointers; Junior Moore had 12 rebounds in the game to go with 17 points; while Ramon Simmons also had four threes.
Pinelands, coached by Renaldo Maughn and under the captaincy of Charles Vanderpool, opened their account with a three-point shot through shooting guard Simmons who signalled his side’s intentions early and they were up 18-13 when Gill nailed a three to extend Pinelands lead 21-13. Cavaliers did what they had to on the offensive end and managed to find four points and cut the deficit down to four through Jamai Puckerin who had ten rebounds and ended on 20 points while captain Jason Smith scored 17. Corey Howard and Joel Hunte also contributed 11 and ten respectively.
Pinelands had a total of 54 team rebounds compared to the opposition’s 46 and to make matters worse for Cavaliers they failed to capitalize on a number of free throws and missed several chances at easy baskets during the second quarter and at half time Pinelands had a 12-point lead.
The third quarter got off to a slow start for both teams but after three minutes had passed the score was 46-36 to Pinelands when Vanderpool scored two free throws and a two to take his team to 50 and in no time they had reach 60. All the while Cavaliers were still trying to keep up and thanks to efforts from Puckerin, Hunte and Stephan Ottley, Station Hill went on to 44 and that is when Smith stepped on the accelerator with two consecutive twos and a three for his team to reach 51 points and ensure they were still in with a chance in the tight encounter.
When the fourth and decisive quarter began Smith picked up from where he left off and was full of confidence when he bagged two of his five three point shots and it was at this point the momentum seemingly swung in Cavaliers’ favour. Pinelands were ahead by five points at 68-63 with literally five minutes to play when referee Jennifer Hackett blew a foul in favour of Hunte who scored both for Cavaliers who were now three points away from levelling the game. But Vanderpool with a free throw and Moore with a lay-up continued to keep Pinelands in the ascendancy at 71-65.
However another team effort among Anand Joseph-Thorne, Puckerin and Kevin Sealy allowed Cavaliers to come from behind and tie the scores 71-71 and just when neither side could afford to foul with just two minutes of playing time left in the game Hurley gave away two crucial points with a foul on Joseph-Thorne.
Payback is everything and Pinelands had their turn when Ian Alexander was fouled but he missed both free throws that reduced coach Maughan to slumping to his right knee in despair. Then Howard connected on a three-pointer in Pinelands’ faces and to the excitement of Cavaliers’ supporters who began to chant “defence, defence” vociferously. But unfortunately they allowed Gill enough room to shoot a three and Hurley with two levelled the scores once again at 76-76. Cavaliers’ coach Craigwell called time out with 42 seconds on the clock. But that made no difference as Hurley and Gill teamed up again to ensure the men in orange came out on top to the dismay of the Station Hill crowd.
But what a game!