That battle of the unbeaten is looking even more intriguing now.
KFC Orange 3 Pinelands sure look ready for Sunday’s top-of-the-table showdown with Burger King Clapham Bulls after downing City United Celtics 81-68 in the Co-operators General Insurance Basketball Premier League.
Taking the floor at the Wildey Gym on Tuesday, the Pine used a decisive 18-1 third-quarter run to maintain their perfect start to the season (6-0) and move a half-game ahead of the defending champion Bulls (5-0).
Yet the result wasn’t a routine one, as City went toe to toe with the league leaders for much of the contest while trailing 50-47 with three minutes left in the third period.
But City took a chance giving Rachad Hall a quick breather, substituting their star guard with fellow starter Anton Lawrence already resting on the bench.
And they paid dearly for that gamble as Pinelands wasted no time in pouncing on City’s underwhelming reserves.
What started as a mere one-score cushion quickly became a 20-point rout in a two-minute span where the Pine forced turnovers and got out in transition.
Derion Hurley got the ball rolling with two free throws and Ian Alexander had an easy layup before Kiserian Adams joined the party with an ‘and one’ finish.
Rasheed Maynard then got free in transition and added an equally wide open trey before finding Adams at the ring for an alley-oop to close out the half (68-48).
City rallied briefly after Lawrence returned to start the fourth quarter with a layup and three-pointer to sandwich baskets from Hall, Jonathan Dottin and Shawn Henry (72-59).
Maynard eventually put an end to that run, though, scoring two more foul shots and another big triple before Hurley put Pinelands up 81-59 on an ‘and one’ tip.
The game then truly got out of hand just moments later as referee Jennifer Joseph-Hackett was forced to separate Hall and Hurley in an ensuing scuffle.
Hurley’s younger brother finished with 17 points, ten rebounds and five assists and Maynard also scored 17 while Henry and Lawrence led City with 19 and 13 points respectively.
In the night cap, Barbados Hilton Warriors continued their dreadful start to the season by dropping their sixth straight contest in an 87-55 defeat to Lumber Company Lakers.
Playing with a seven-man roster, the winless Warriors quickly fell behind 20-7 and never looked likely of threatening while refusing to play any sort of transition defence.
Lakers stretched the lead to 17 (35-18) by the break before opening up a 65-32 cushion in the ensuing third quarter.
National forward Mark Bridgeman led four Lakers (2-3) in double digits with 15 points while fellow national player Keefe Birkett and Zachary Cave both scored 14.
For Warriors, Kareem Farrell had 11 points, Kevin Carter added ten points and ten boards and Danny Hurley also scored ten points.