Defending league champions Barbados Lumber Company Lakers gave themselves a lifeline with an 81-62 victory over Station Hill Cavaliers in the Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association’s semifinal series played last night at the Barbados Community College.
It was game two in the best of three series and unlike Lakers who forced a decisive game three, Barbados Hilton Resort Warriors ensured they did not have to take the court a third time defeating KFC Orange Three Pinelands 86-80 for a 2-0 clean sweep to earn the Frederick Bynoe-coached team a place in the final.
From the sound of referee Rene Batson’s whistle, Lakers in a must-win situation pressed the offensive accelerator and did not turn back as they commanded the first three stanzas 24-14, 43-25 and 59-45 to ensure they stayed alive in the series.
Warriors captain Keefe Birkett produced a game-high 29 points having sweated on court for close to 33 minutes, scoring five two-point shots along with four treys and nailing seven of seven from the free throw line. Also getting into double digits were John Jones and Jehu Lafeuillee with 14 points each, as both men with their height and agility blocked and rebounded well when Cavaliers tried to press inside the paint.
Chiamaka Browne contributed eight to the score, Ormond Haynes tallied six and there were four points from Mark Bridgeman and three points each from Adrian Allman and Jimal Singh.
Each time Cavaliers’ playmakers Granville Gittens (16 points) and Joel Hunte (13 points) tried to make a run, Jones or Lafeuillee was there to shut it down. Even though many of the Cavaliers supporters accused referees Batson and Gillian Martindale of poor officiating that led to their defeat, it was really a case where Lakers came to play and they did just that. Besides, which defending would just relinquish their title without a fight?
Hunte scored 13 points and his older brother Darren tallied ten. Kelvin Patterson and Jamai Puckerin accounted for six points each while Stephan Ottley had three and there were two points each from captain Jason Smith, Dwayne Kellman, Zachary Cave and Kevin Sealy.
In the other semifinal match-up, Warriors drew first blood with an 88-79 victory over Pinelands in game one played Monday at the Wildey, Gymnasium and last night they returned to finish off the job with a six-point [86-80] win having led 19-15, 44-36 and 66-62 in the first three quarters.
Talented forward Jamar ‘Spanner’ Headley was destructive inside the semicircle and he made scoring look so easy, and in so doing earned himself a game-high 36 points along with six rebounds. Fellow national player Justin Pile scored 16 points and 12 of those came off three-point shots. Pile was also a strong defensive force for Warriors with nine rebounds and one assist. Tramaine Shaw contributed seven points while Ricardo Toussaint and Shaquan Newton both had four each.
With Warriors leading by a mere four points to start the quarter, 66-62, Pinelands began that decisive fourth period with a bang when Derion Hurley fed fellow point guard Zahir Motara who nailed a three-point shot to cut the deficit by one at 65-66.
Warriors then found themselves in a penalty situation after Pile chucked Hurley in his back, resulting in the latter scoring one of two free throws to level the scores at 66-66 and give Pinelands possession. Then Renaldo Maughn and his men decided to turn things up a notch when Ramon Simmons, clearly on fire, dribbled Warriors point guard Daniel Durant inside out, left him for dead flat on the floor before nailing a delicious three-point shot that sent Pinelands and their supporters into a frenzy.
Pinelands broke the deficit and took a three-point lead at 69-66, but Warriors kept their composure and at 80-80, Shaw having struggled all season delivered when it mattered most with a two-point shot. From there on Warriors went on to score four free throws compliments Headley with two from two and one each from Newton and Durant.
The decisive third game is scheduled for tomorrow between Lakers and Cavaliers at BCC but a time is yet to be confirmed.