Pinelands outSAFE HANDS: Pinelands forward Charles Vanderpool (right) protecting the ball from Dwayne Kellman (No. 8) and Philip Harewood. (Kenmore Bynoe)
By Justin Marville | Sat, July 14, 2012 - 12:04 AM
ANOTHER YEAR. Another wasted season.
The nightmare that is Pinelands’ season still rages on, rather unlike their dreams of making the play-offs, as Roll-A-Way St John’s Sonics officially put them out of Premier League basketball’s postseason picture following Thursday’s 84-68 rout at the YMCA.
The result moved the third-placed Sonics within a win of ending a three-year play-off drought while extending the Pine’s postseason absence to three years.
It’s just the cap to yet another dreadfully disappointing Pinelands season, where the perennial underachievers fell woefully short of huge expectations again while fielding a squad talented enough to contend for a title – or at worst a play-off berth.
But the only contention has come from inside the team itself, as Pinelands fell victim to what has become their customary late-game meltdown.
This was after the Pine valiantly fought back from a menacing 17-point (67-50) fourth-quarter deficit to seemingly make a game of the contest when Charles Vanderpool’s “and-one” reverse put Pinelands within eight (69-61) with four minutes remaining.
However, they blew the next six possessions, and Sonics rattled off nine unanswered points as part of a decisive 15-7 finish that resulted in Pinelands’ third straight loss.
This time it was Akeem Marsh who proved to be the Pine’s eventual conqueror, with the rangy forward taking over down the stretch by scoring nine crucial points on a series of back-breaking jumpers.
It was the defining statement of a showdown between the league’s best power forwards – one which Vanderpool threatened to win while outscoring Marsh 17-10 in the first three periods.
But Pinelands never looked likely to win the one matchup that actually mattered, as St John’s ran out to an early 20-10 lead before Marsh and George Haynes hit down early dunks in the second quarter to put Sonics ahead 36-21.
Pinelands rallied once both Sonics big men went to the bench, though, closing the half on a 14-4 run capped by Daniel Lovell’s alley-oop to Vanderpool and the latter’s subsequent buzzer-beating post move (40-35).
However, Sonics scored four transition lay-ups to open the half as part of a swift 9-0 surge before Haynes’ telling drop-step on Vanderpool opened a 55-41 cushion.
St John’s also opened the ensuing fourth on another series of lay-ups, stretching the lead to an ominous 67-50 advantage.
Marsh finished with 19 points for Sonics, who improved to 11-5, while Dwayne Kellman added 15 points and 15 rebounds and Trotman scored 14. Haynes chipped in with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Vanderpool led Pinelands (7-9) with a game-high 21 points and Daniel Lovell had 18.
Earlier, Corey McDonald scored 22 points while Remar Smith scored eight of his 11 in a decisive fourth-quarter finish as First Works Warriors ensured they would avoid demotion via a 74-67 win over relegation-bound Colombian Emeralds International Senators.
Andre Pierre added 17 points as Warriors (6-9) completed a season-sweep of their Dayrells Road neighbours to guarantee they can finish no lower than Senators (3-12).
Selwyn Brooks scored a game-high 24 points while Alvin Padmore had 17 points and 19 rebounds for Senators, who will have to win their last three games and hope that Clapham (6-8) go winless over their final four to avoid relegation.
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