Warriors guard Kareem Farrell (right) laying up on Keefe Birkett. (Picture by Gavin Hinkson.)
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Jamar “Spanner” Headley is definitely back. So too are his Hilton Barbados Warriors.
Headley scored ten points in a crucial fourth-quarter stretch to help Warriors extend their winning streak via Thursday’s 77-71 victory over defending champs Lumber Company Lakers in the Co-operators General Insurance Basketball Premier League at the Wildey Gym.
It was the third win in as many games for Warriors, whose recent tear has coincided with Headley’s return to the floor from injury.
The streak hasn’t gone by unnoticed either, considering the Dayrells Road men took down the two league leaders in successive games with wins over Station Hill and Lakers.
And Headley had his fingerprints all over both results, pouring in 23 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks against the Cavs before having his way with Lakers down the stretch.
Clinging to a 54-53 lead entering the fourth, Warriors got a bit of breathing room after the athletic forward converted a pair of fast-break buckets to put them ahead 66-58.
Headley even tapped in one of his own misses before Kareem Farrell got out in transition too off of national centre John Jones’ costly turnovers.
But Jones quickly responded by scoring a layup and two free throws (68-64) after fellow national starter Mark Bridgeman got the rally started with a drive along the baseline.
However, Jones fouled out just moments later all while Headley scored two free throws of his own and a gorgeous euro-step layup to sandwich Farrell’s big three-pointer (73-66).
Lakers threatened again though, albeit briefly, as Andre Boadu answered in the post before Bridgeman cut backdoor for a layup to make the contest a two-score game (74-70) with 44 seconds left.
Adrian Allman then split two free throws and ended back up with the ball with a chance to cut the score to two, but he couldn’t make good on a wide-open trey from the top of the key.
It was the close finish to a game that seemed certain to end in a rout after Warriors jumped out to a quick 24-13 lead.
Taking advantage of Jones’ failure to get back in transition, Headley, Ricardo Toussaint and Justin Pile all took turns scoring in the open court on an unprotected Lakers ring.
Bridgeman eventually had a pair of layups to sandwich a Keefe Birkett triple that sparked Lakers subsequent 10-2 rally (26-23).
But Nicholai Williams ended the run with a short hook before Tremaine Shaw drilled two midrange jumpers and Headley added another layup to restore Warriors’ double-digit advantage (40-29).
Yet Lakers simply refused to go away quietly, ending the half by scoring nine unanswered points after Bridgeman and Birkett hit successive long jumpers.
Headley finished with 18 points and nine rebounds for Warriors, who moved a game behind Lakers and Cavs for the league’s best record with a 6-3 mark. Pile added 12 points while Shaw and Toussaint both scored ten.
Bridgeman led Lakers (7-2) with 23 points and ten boards, Jones had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Birkett scored 14 points.
Earlier, Manuel Alleng had 21 points to lead Pan American International Warrens to a season sweep of St John’s Sonics via an 80-72 victory.
Greig Springer scored 15 points for Warrens, who improved to a 4-5 record, while Dario Cumberbatch added 11 points.
Romaine Lovell led Sonics (2-7) with 20 points, Stefan Clarke and Jamar King scored 13 apiece and Decino Corbin added 12. (JM)