They may have lost this battle but the schoolboys definitely won the war.
Combined Schools Tridents are into the semi-finals of basketball’s President’s Cup, having just held onto their slim aggregate lead over Lumber Company Lakers despite last night’s 66-64 defeat at the Barbados Community College.
Winning the first leg of the two-game series 72-67, schoolboys just had to avoid losing by six points or more to advance to their first KO semi since 2010.
But they very nearly dropped the ball after trailing by as many as 11 prior to facing a 54-46 fourth-quarter deficit.
And Lakers gave themselves a real shot of reaching the next round when former Cavs forward Granville Gittens put them up 64-59 inside the final two minutes.
However, the schoolboys’ Dijon Hunte up-faked his defender for a crucial layup mere moments before Simeon Maynard kicked out to Brandon Ruck for a wide open trey in the corner (66-64) with just 15 seconds left.
Lakers still had a chance to even the aggregate scores but Tridents intercepted an easy and obvious inbounds pass intended for Keefe Birkett in the corner before dribbling out the clock.
It was the thrilling finish to an enthralling seesaw contest that had more dips and dives than a St John cart road.
Tridents actually held Lakers to just 11 first-quarter points on the back of some stifling half court defense before getting outscored 24-10 for the remainder of the half.
Once again schoolboys had no answer for Lakers in the paint as Gittens and Ricardo Jemmott pounded them for 11 points down low.
David Walkes actually started the run, getting out in transition for a pair of drives that helped Lakers dig their way out of a 15-11 hole into a 35-25 advantage.
But Tridents made Lakers pay for insisting to stay in a 2-3 zone, as Maynard and Ruck capitalised on over-rotating defenders by sinking four quick treys between them in an 21-11 rally (46-46).
Birkett and Walkes had a three-point party of their own though, hitting successive long balls to close out the third quarter before Jemmott stretched the lead to 54-46 on an elbow jumper.
Tridents eventually locked the scores again at 56 courtesy of more triples from Ruck and Kyrone Alexander, only to fall behind when Gittens and Jemmott got to work in the paint (64-59).
Maynard had a game-high 22 points and Ruck added 17, while Jemmott led Lakers with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The schoolboys advanced to a final four matchup with reigning league champs Burger King Clapham Bulls, who further extended their first-game lead via a 91-57 rout of Barbados Hilton Warriors.
Rahiim Gibbons top-scored for Clapham with 25 points, Kelan Phillips had 19 while Akeem Marsh chipped in with 14 points and 11 boards. Rasheed Harte led Warriors with 16.
Defending four-time KO kings Station Hill Cavaliers easily made it into the next round by finishing their series with a 107-54 rout of Church Village Spartans.
Deveron Knight had 33 points and 10 rebounds for Station Hill while Theo Greenidge led Spartans with 19 points.
The Cavs will face KFC Orange 3 Pinelands in the other semi-final after Derion Hurley had a season-high 35 points in the Pine’s 94-67 blowout win over City United Celtics.
Kiserian Adams finished three rebounds shy of a triple double with 18 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists while Rachad Hall top-scored for City with 23 points and 10 boards.