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Cavs sock it to Cougars

Justin Marville

Cavs sock it to Cougars

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THE ONLY KICK Cougars got this time around was the one that might just have put them out of basketball’s Premier League.
Jamai Puckerin had six of his game-high 23 points as part of a decisive 16-4 fourth-quarter rally as Mpact Station Hill Cavaliers kept themselves in postseason contention after finally getting the better of the likely relegation-bound Nicholls Baking Company Cougars in Thursday’s 85-79 win at the Wildey Gym.
It was just the defending champs’ first win in their last four matchups against Cougars, whose last victory in the series was remembered more for how it started than how it finished.
Exactly two months to the day, Ricardo Yearwood made headlines for drop-kicking Keith Yearwood in a game in which Puckerin was a mere underused reserve and which featured two teams scrapping for last place.
Oh, what a difference two months can make.
Station Hill (10-6) moved within a half-game of Jackson (10-5) for the league’s final play-off berth on the heels of yet another dominant Puckerin performance, which sent Cougars (4-13) reeling to their eighth loss in nine games.
This, after the Hothersal Turning side looked certain of extending their streak against Cavs following a 34-point second-quarter eruption that came as part of a stunning 19-point turnaround.
It was one of the most memorable runs engineered all season, as Lawrence Small came off the bench to hit two of Cougars’ five treys in the period, transforming a 23-15 deficit into a surprising 49-40 half-time lead.
And the few points Station Hill mustered in the second came via the long ball too, with Corey Williams hitting two of his own before even centre Andre Jean-Pierre made good on one from deep.
But the Cavs went back to getting their three-point plays the traditional way, as Puckerin muscled his way on the inside for an “and-one” play to start a run in the third quarter that pulled them within one point (65-64).
Station Hill probably would’ve led by the end of that period too, were they able to account for the streaking Godfrey Leacock and Adrian Stewart’s constant leaking out in transition.
However, Cougars’ over-reliance on the deep ball eventually cost them the contest, as Leacock and Stewart went zero for their next six to open the fourth, all while the Cavs were busy dominating the paint.
The game was all but decided when Puckerin and Jean-Pierre combined for 12 of the Cavs’ first 16 of the fourth quarter in a 16-4 run that put the champs ahead 80-69 with 3:15 to play.
Cougars attempted to rally inside the final two minutes following two treys from Small, but Stewart had one of his own rim out with 40 seconds remaining to end the threat, as Cougars never got any closer than five (84-79).
Williams finished with 17 points, Jean-Pierre scored 15 and Puckerin added 12 rebounds. Stewart led Cougars, who are one game behind Patriots (4-11) in the demotion race, with 23 points and 11 boards, while Leacock and Small scored 18 and 12 respectively.