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St Leonard’s end drought

Justin Marville

St Leonard’s end drought

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LOOK WHO’S BACK atop Division II schools’ basketball.
And in stunning fashion at that.
Richmond’s finest are the best in their division again after Nicholas Rouse had 13 of his game-high 19 points in the last period, spurring St Leonard’s dramatic fourth-quarter comeback in Wednesday’s 50-47 victory over St Lucy for the Pearson Griffith Trophy at the Wildey Gym.
It’s their first basketball title in more than six years, and the first time they beat their tormentors from Trents this season. They had already lost both league encounters including last month’s regular-season title game.
And not many would’ve bet against a third straight defeat either.
Especially not after the Richmond Gap lads fell behind by as many as 12 points (30-18) late in the third quarter following a spell where they managed just four points in the previous period and 13 overall in the first half.
But St Lucy had demons of their own to conquer, having also dropped last season’s trophy game just weeks after winning their first ever regular season title.
Oh, how history has a way of repeating itself.
It was a collapse for the ages, as St Lucy watched all of a ten-point (34-24) fourth-quarter lead whittle away within eight minutes of play while scoring only five points.
Worse yet, the Trents side appeared to have withstood the worst, as Rouse’s early charge of seven successive St Leonard’s points only pulled the side within six (39-33).
He wasn’t finished yet though, adding a putback prior to going coast-to-coast for a lay-up to lock the scores at 39 with three minutes remaining.
Then to add injury to insult, opposing big man Jamario Clarke was forced to the bench with cramps while point guard Rommel Bynoe was subbed, leaving St Lucy without two main starters for a key stretch.
The result was Rouse’s go-ahead score followed by a back-breaking triple from Pablo Kinch, before Jare Alleyne’s free throws put St Leonard’s ahead 46-41 inside a minute to play.
St Lucy threatened to force overtime when Clarke returned for a quick score prior to stealing the ensuing inbounds pass while getting fouled.
But he split his free throws, and Alleyne scored easily at the other end before Rouse converted a St Lucy turnover into another lay-up to seal the deal.
Earlier, Clarke and tournament MVP Jerome Small marshalled St Lucy’s assault in transition as the regular season champs turned a 19-13 half-time lead into a 30-18 advantage.
At one stage St Lucy scored nine unanswered points as part of an 11-2 run during which their opponents had more turnovers than shot attempts.
It mirrored St Leonard’s first-half performance, where the Richmond Gap side struggled to get the ball inside to the lanky Rouse amidst a slew of ill-advised three-point heaves.
Kinch, who was the chief culprit hoisting away from behind the arc, scored ten points, while Bynoe and Clarke led St Lucy with 17 and 13 points, respectively.