Barbados Lumber Company Lakers have lost one grip on their Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Premier League title after suffering a 64-55 defeat to Station Hill Cavaliers last night at the Wildey, St Michael Gymnasium.
The Adrian Craigwell-coached Cavaliers team steered their way to a nine-point win in a very defensively-oriented exchange that saw the victorious men in green lead 20-9, 29-27 and 48-43 in the first three stanzas.
Small forwards Granville Gittens [called for travelling on a few occasion] top-scored with 18 points and Joel Hunte registered 16, while center Jamai Puckerin tallied ten. Those were the only three to reach double figures as the next best score of eight came through former national player and captain Jason Smith. The big man Kelvin Patterson totalled five points, Stephan Ottley registered three and Darren Hunte, the elder brother of Joel, scored two.
After an 11-point deficit [20-9] at the conclusion of the first stanza, Lakers used their offensive muscle to dominate the second quarter 18-9 and in so doing managed to reduce their arrears to just two points 27-29 at halftime.
In the penultimate period it was still anybody’s game for the taking and at 38-37, Hunte gave Cavaliers a breather when he nailed a three-point shot to extend that lead by four. But Lakers responded with a delicious trey of their own through overseas-based point guard Chiamaka Browne, the son of former national player, Derek Browne, now assistant national coach for the senior men’s team.
Suddenly it came down to a one-point game 41-40 and that is when Cavaliers’ small forward Granville Gittens decided to pull off a Goliath-like move to secure a two-point shot. There was nothing Lakers professional player John Jones, along with the other big men such as Andre Boadu and Jehu Lafeuillee could have done to stop that skilLful play from Gittens. He got the ball at the top of the key and though a defensive presence was there, Gittens drove to the basket with power and precision as if there was no one ahead of him. It was a signature move of the game.
Both teams were physically strong inside the key but Cavaliers did well to pass the ball on the outskirt of the semicircle and in so doing kept possession away from Lakers’ tall men. They totalled 45 rebounds [34 defensive] while Station Hill had 43.
Lakers’ highest individual score of 12 came from power forward John Jones who had a horrible night in the post and had just three rebounds in the game.
Lakers captain Keefe Birkett had the next best score of 11 and there were ten points each from Browne and national player Mark Bridgeman. Browne and Bridgeman had 16 rebounds between them with the latter having 11. Meanwhile, Jehu Lafeuillee accumulated eight hard-earn points and was helpful with eight rebounds as well but Lakers point guards Jimal Singh and veteran Adrian Allman scored a mere two points each.
Cavaliers scored 19 points from turnovers compared to two by Lakers. They also registered 32 points in the paint, more than the 26 from Derek Browne’s men. In addition, they had a differentiation of 14-11 second chance opportunities, a total of 25 against 12 bench points and seven fast break points compared to five for the Lakers.
In the decisive fourth quarter, Cavaliers shifted gears and managed to move nine points clear of Lakers. The former led 54-50 when point guard Ottley nailed a three-pointer followed by a two-pointer from Joel Hunte which was good enough for Cavaliers to triumph.
In the opening semifinal match, Barbados Hilton Resort Warriors also took a 1-0 lead with an 88-79 win over KFC Orange Three Pinelands. Warriors commanded proceedings 25-15, 49-35 and 64-52 in the first three quarters en route to clinching the game.
Clearly, that much-desired rest Pinelands captain Jeremy ‘Bull’ Gill, Charles Vanderpool and Junior Moore took before the start of yesterday’s playoff when they returned from the Caribbean Basketball Championship two to three weeks ago, was insufficient. Pinelands looked a tad rusty on court, and exceptional passing by Warriors top forwards and national players Jamar ‘Spanner’ Headley who had a game-high 22 points and Justin Pile who chipped in with 20, frequently proved difficult to intercept.
When it wasn’t good passing, it was great shooting that helped Warriors get past Pinelands. Nicholia Williams made it into double digits with 14 points for Warriors. Captain Tramaine Shaw continued to struggle as he contributed just ten points, Ricardo Toussaint scored eight and Shaquan Newton added six. Pinelands’ point guards Gill, Ramon Simmons and Derion Hurley scored 17, 16 and 13 points each while center Vanderpool had 13. Game two is scheduled to be played Thursday night at Barbados Community College.