By Morissa Lindsay
All it took was one more win for Orange Three Pinelands to clinch the three-best of-five Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Premier League playoff series. But they couldn’t.
Station Hill Cavaliers had other ideas and were not about to give up that easily. They came out on top 81-67 after leading at the quarters 27-16, 38-39, 58-52, in the third playoff final played last night at the Barbados Community College.
Pinelands with the support of parliamentary representative Santia Bradshaw of the Barbados Labour Party and Patrick Tannis of the ruling Democratic Labour Party, were favoured to win after leading the series 2-0 heading into yesterday’s contest.
Cavaliers’ forwards Jamai Puckerin top scored with 20 points, Darren Hunte had 19, Joel Hunte scored 14 and captain Jason Smith added 13 inclusive of four three-pointers while guard Stephan Ottley scored six.
Puckerin was on court for 30 minutes and also had eight rebounds with five of those on the defensive end. Darren Hunte on the other hand was substituted regularly but spent 24 minutes on the court and scored eight of his ten free throws.
At the start of the match Pinelands’ shooting guard Ramon Simmons was noticeably missing and Dwayne Pollard replaced him in the starting five. Ian Alexander led the way with 14 points for Pinelands, captain Charles Vanderpool and Junior Moore accounted for 12 each, as they were the only players to reach double figures. Point guard Jeremy ‘Bull’ Gill who averaged 19.5 points per game this season struggled throughout the game while Pollard managed a mere two points
With an 11-point lead heading into the second quarter Pinelands needed to close that gap and who better than shooting guard Derion Hurley in place of center Vanderpool. Saeed Norville’s two-point layup extended Cavaliers lead and at 29-20 Hurley hit two consecutive three-point shots and just when Pinelands cut the deficit by three (29-26) Norville returned with a mighty slam dunk to take them on to 31.
Pinelands still trailed closely and put in a collective effort to bring the margin down by two (36-34) and with exactly two minutes to go Simmons came into play with a layup and tied the scores at 36-36. Gill shot one of two free throws to give his side the lead but Hunte netted another two to reverse the lead 38-37 to Cavaliers.
It was 40 seconds of playing time left on the score board before half time when Pinelands won possession of the ball through Gill with a pass to Moore who had nothing to do but put the ball through the hoop and gave the Orange Three men a one point lead.
Cavaliers committed 41 turnovers, dealt 19 assists and had 16 steals, compared to Pinelands’ 32 turnovers, 14 assists and nine steals.
When the third quarter began Smith showed Cavaliers’ intentions by nailing a three point shot. It was from there that they moved ahead with a seven point lead 49-42 when Smith again with another three made it 52. As expected Pinelands’ coach Renaldo Maughn called time-out.
Following that Maughan subbed Moore for Vanderpool who made an early impact off a zone play with a pass to Simmons who did what he does best and hit the bottom of the basket for one of two threes in the quarter. Gill then made a steal for two and Pinelands with another turnover found Simmons who nailed his second three to take Pinelands to 52. However, Cavaliers knew the importance of maintaining their lead and kept a six-points advantage.
Cavaliers had ball possession at the start of the fourth quarter and Darren Hunte drove to the basket for two followed by a foul as they went ahead 62-52 and from there they carried on with the momentum. Hunte and Puckerin had a good last quarter and they had Pinelands’ defence rather busy. Ottley also played his part and hit the board for two that took Cavaliers to 71 followed by Joel Hunte with a three to increase their team’s chances of winning with under four minutes to play.
Pinelands did not help their case by giving away possession on a number of occasions and fouling unnecessarily. At 81-67 with under a minute to play Pinelands’ supporters began to file out in their numbers and that summed up the night they had.