Cougars beat Warrens for semis berth
Last year isn’t looking so fluky now.
The chumps turned champs look destined for another title run, as Godfrey Leacock had nine of his 12 points as part of a stirring fourth-quarter rally to lead basketball knockout kings Nicholls Baking Company Cougars in Sunday’s 69-61 win over Warrens at the YMCA.
The quarter-final comeback victory set up another lengthy tournament run for the once listless Cougars, who won their first ever top flight cup last season despite barely staving off relegation.
Their latest fairy tale seemed like it would fall short of another fabled ending though, with Warrens holding an early 40-28 third-quarter advantage after leading by as many as 14 (22-8) in the second.
But Cougars’ success story still had another chapter in it, and Leacock ensured he’d be the one to write it by locking the scores at 46 with a huge trey before scoring the eventual go-ahead basket just seconds later.
This was after centre Shawn Gaskin keyed a decisive 15-4 third-quarter run, pulling Cougars within one (44-43) via some crucial baskets off offensive rebounds amidst a flurry of Warrens turnovers.
Clive Holder seemingly ended the second-half rally with a thunderous throw-down early in the fourth, but that only gave Warrens back the lead temporarily (51-50) as Cougars rattled off 11 of the next 13 points.
Anthony “Bill” White had a clutch “and-one” play in the paint before Adrian Stewart added a free throw and assisted on successive baskets for a 61-53 lead with 2:03 to play.
However, Warrens failed to go away quietly, threatening on an ensuing Gavin Robinson triple before Gaskin was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul that helped reduce Cougars’ cushion to four (61-57).
It proved the extent of Warrens’ rally, though, with Gaskin adding another put-back prior to four straight points from White and Leacock’s subsequent leak-out that capped an 8-4 finish.
Gaskin had a game-high 14 points while Stewart and White finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Holder and Dario Cumberbatch led Warrens with 12 points apiece.
Earlier, national forward Akeem Marsh scored the eventual game-winning “and-one” play with ten ticks left as Premier League side Roll-A-Way St John’s Sonics avoided a huge upset in a last-second 56-53 thriller over Intermediate squad Lawn Tech Services Royals.
Royals had actually led by as many as eight (33-25) midway through the third before Sonics closed the quarter on a 15-4 surge to take a 40-37 lead.
But Royals still had a chance to steal one in the dying moments, but Ryan Weekes attacked the six-foot-nine Marsh instead of holding for the last shot with the score tied at 53. And Weekes immediately paid for the gaffe as Marsh went coast-to-coast for the hoop and the harm on the very next possession.
Marsh finished with 19 points while Royals’ forward Todd Bourne led all scorers with 26. Sonics are set to play Lakers on Thursday while Cougars face the Cavs tonight at the Wildey Gym.