Defending knockout champions Station Hill Cavaliers romped to a hard-fought 65-62 semifinal win last night against KFC Orange Three Pinelands, to secure their place in the final of the Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Championship.
The two-time champions will be aiming for a three-peat when they take on Barbados Lumber Company Lakers who emerged with a 71-66 victory over Barbados Hilton Resort Warriors in the opening semifinal fixture at the Wildey, Gymnasium.
Pinelands hit the court as usual with a lethal attack and controlled most of the offensive plays in the opening half leading 22-12 and 36-33 in the first and second quarters. But then Cavaliers coach Adrian Craigwell, opting to stand for most of the game, began to stir up his charges who started to fire and dominated the third stanza that ended at 58-44. That momentum boosted the Cavs’ confidence heading into the decisive quarter.
It was a collective effort yet again from the Cavaliers unit with forwards Jamai Puckerin top-scoring with 16 points, Granville Gittens tallying 10, and Kelvin ‘Brown’ Patterson and Dwayne Kellman scoring eight points each.
The momentum shifted in Cavaliers favour when coach Craigwell brought on his biggest power forward and former national player in Patterson. The veteran showed the youngsters how it should be done when he muscled Pinelands’ defence going after the rebounds to ensure the majority of ball possession remained in Cavaliers’ grip.
It was a move that saw Cavaliers completely dominate on both sides of the court as they unleashed a 25-8 run in the third period. The men in green were very much unstoppable with their set plays which were strategically planned and nicely put together with a combination of passes before drives to the basket for several excellent finishes. When any of those attempts failed, Patterson, who was marked mostly by forward Junior Moore, was there to rebound and finish the play himself or pass off to the shooters.
Patterson had six points in that game-changing quarter and even though he continued from where he left off in the fourth, providing a strong defensive presence, he was eventually substituted as he showed visible signs of tiring from his exertions. But by then the damage had already been done to Pinelands.
Pinelands’ center Charles Vanderpool totalled 12 points, point guards Jeremy Gill, Ramon Simmons and Derion Hurley along with forwards Junior Moore and Ian Alexander, all tallied eight points each. It was not a good shooting night for Pinelands who seemed unhappy with the calls made by referee Jennifer Joseph- Hackett especially against Gill who was not pleased about a call made in the third quarter and asked coach Renaldo Maughn for a substitution.
Pinelands with an experienced line-up of former and current national players must be commended for being able to recover from being down by 14 points at the start of the fourth stanza to trail by a mere three points (62-65) with seconds left to play.
As time ran down on the stop clock, Pinelands managed a steal that found point guard Derion Hurley who was aware a three-point shot was needed and freed his arms for the trey but ended up missing the basket. Perhaps if he had passed to Gill inside the paint for a two-point layup and a possible foul, Pinelands could have had a chance of forcing overtime. But instead, Cavaliers got the rebound, kept possession and breathed a sigh of relief when the final buzzer went.
The other semifinal result was just as close between Lakers and Warriors with the latter taking an early lead, 19-14, in the first quarter. Lakers responded by taking a one-point advantage at the end of the second period, 31-30. But Warriors retained the edge (45-44) in the third before the reigning premier league champions Lakers scrambled to a five-point win.
Yet again, Lakers power forward John Jones stood out on the offensive end of play with a game-high 27 points and received great support from captain Keefe Birkett who scored 18 points inclusive of triple treys. Ormond Haynes and Kregg Jones contributed 10 and nine points respectively.
For Warriors Justin Pile top scored with 17 points, Ricardo Toussaint had 13, Shaquan Newton supported with 12 and Nicholai Williams had eight before fouling out. It did not help Warriors’ case when one of their leading forwards Jamar ‘Spanner’ Headley left the court holding the right side of his chest in discomfort with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
It was a game that saw the scores being tied on numerous occasions, but Lakers were the ones who held their nerves and came out victorious.
The final is slated for tomorrow night at the Gymnasium.