The whistle has blown in favour of a third and decisive Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Premier League semifinal playoff game tomorrow at the Barbados Community College (BCC).
In last night’s feature game defending champions Orange Three Pinelands were defeated 74-65 by last year’s runners-up, Station Hill Cavaliers .
Cavaliers were victorious without head coach Adrian Craigwell who will not be present for the semifinal playoffs due to commitments with the Barbados Under-21 netball team who will play their opening match of the World Youth Netball Championship in Gaborone, Botswana against South Africa Saturday, July 8, starting 4.a.m. Barbados time.
In the second encounter Urban Vybz St John Sonics captain and power forward Akeem Marsh turned up big with a game-high 28 points to lead his team to an 85-75 victory over Lakers to tie the series 1-1.
Lakers won the opening best of three showdown 77-73 on Tuesday, July 4 to take a 1-0 lead but Sonics returned during game two yesterday to give a terrific performance in the fourth stanza with a 35-20 run over Lakers who commanded the first three quarters 22-12, 43-30 and 55-50 before fading to the big man Marsh who handled the ball in the high post very well.
Marsh, along with center Charles Vanderpool who scored 12 points in the game, once given enough room was able to penetrate Lakers’ defence made up of Jehu Lafeuillee, Ricardo Jemmott, Ormond Haynes and Andre Boadu. Marsh made nine of 15 two- pointers, seven of nine free throws and added nine rebounds (six defensive and three offensive) to his night’s work. He also bruised his opponents’ morale with several massive slam-dunks. And if the ball did not reach Marsh, Sonics fed their point guard Jamar King who tallied 22 points inclusive of two three-pointers and a perfect free throw score of eight points from the line. He also added six assists.
Keefe Birkett scored 26 points, Ormond Haynes had 12, Adrian Allman 11 and there were ten each from Lafeuillee and Jamal Singh. Lakers had a one point lead at 57-56 but Shane Whittaker produced a layup followed by a dunk from Marsh to give Sonics the advantage at 60-57 as the men in green coached by Charles Husbands began to find their range but not without a bit of tension in the fourth quarter.
It was exactly four minutes and 54 seconds on the board when Lakers forward Lafeuillee went one on one with Marsh who came up with a solid right-handed block that was deemed a foul by referee Glyne Clarke and that created some buzz among spectators.
That play was so impactful that words were passed between the two men when they came face to face and had to be quickly separated by the referee and players. Just when calm was restored, a spectator was asked to be removed by referee Clarke, who obviously did not appreciate the spectator’s language.
Sonics never got sidetracked though, in fact, they pressed further on the accelerator as the lead was extended to 72-67. Marsh buried a three-point shot from the middle as Sonics went on to clinch the contest. That Lafeuillee fouled out did not help Lakers’ cause.
In the other match-up, Cavaliers swingman Darren Hunte returned after missing the opening game of the playoff series this past Tuesday. He helped his team to defeat Pinelands 74-65 after dominating the first three periods 18-18, 38-30 and 58-47.
Cavs were spearheaded by a top score of 17 from captain Jason Smith, and there were useful contributions from Kevin Sealy, 12, Hunte, 11, Anand Joseph-Thorne nine, Jamai Puckerin, eight and Joel Hunte, seven.
Meanwhile, Derion Hurley netted 18 points for Pinelands, Junior Moore had 14 and Jeremy Gill ten were the only three into double figures.
At one point Pinelands who trailed throughout the game brought the deficit down to three points (65-68) and Pinelands forward Ian Alexander with the perfect opportunity to reduce it further after being fouled missed both free throws. It was one minute and 32 seconds left to play when Cavaliers called time out and on resumption they found the hoop through Darren Hunte with the basket and one free throw. This caused Pinelands’ coach Renaldo Maughan to call time out.
The clock began to wind down and with just seconds to go, Gill floated through Cavaliers’ defence for a layup making it 68-65 but as good a play as that was from Gill, Manuel Alleng did not help his team’s cause when he committed a foul on Darren who put away both free throws to increase the lead to 70-65. Hunte’s younger brother, Joel then placed icing on the win with one of the fiercest slam-dunks imaginable.