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Lakers quell Pine revolt

Justin Marville

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LUMBER COMPANY LAKERS don’t appear so unbeatable of late. But the look of their record still says otherwise.
They haven’t lost any love for Pinelands, or games against them, as basketball’s Premier League champs used a late 19-6 run to remain perfect while celebrating Ricardo Jemmott’s return in Thursday’s ill-tempered 77-60 victory over their heated rivals at the Wildey Gym.
It was Lakers’ sixth straight regular season win and tenth successive victory overall for the year, which started with March’s imposing knockout title run.
But for all the hype surrounding this season’s dominance, the latest win represented the second consecutive occasion that the league leaders were forced to pull out all the stops in the fourth, following Sunday’s close call against Warriors.
And there was certainly nothing idle about the Pinelands threat, not after Lakers watched a 14-point  cushion (52-38) dwindle to a mere seven points (54-47) just two minutes into the fourth quarter.
As tempers soared, though, so too did the champs’ transition game. Jemmott could not have picked a better time to announce his return to the line-up, flashing his elite two-way skills by starting the break with blocks on one end before finishing them on the other to the tune of three layups.
Mark Bridgeman and Jamar King added three such baskets between them as well while opposing guard Daniel Lovell was inexplicably benched during yet another meltdown that has so often become his team’s custom.
All this went on as opposing guards Andre Lockhart and Brian Worrell engaged in a shouting match throughout a heated back-and-forth exchange.
Final punctuation
Lockhart led Lakers’ open court attack with a subsequent jumper and knifing layup before capping the 19-6 run with 2:06 to play on a huge pull-up triple (73-53).
It was the final punctuation to a statement that was seemingly made an hour earlier when the champs stormed ahead 24-11 on the back of Keefe Birkett’s three-for-three start to the contest.
However, the loudest shouts were reserved for Lovell’s response – an emphatic one-handed tip slam that started a string of seven straight Pinelands points (24-19) to open the second quarter.
Jamar King quickly put an end to that rally, though, coming off the bench and immediately hitting a jumper before assisting on a Lockhart layup as Lakers closed the half leading 38-28.
Pinelands threatened on a subsequent Steve Sealy trey but Lockhart answered with successive reverse layups while the Pine fell behind by 14 after struggling to finish over Jemmott in the paint.
Jemmott finished with ten points, ten rebounds and five blocks, Lockhart had 17 points while Bridgeman and Birkett scored 16 and 11 points respectively. Charles Vanderpool led Pinelands, who dropped to 2-4, with 14 points and ten boards, and Gary Miller added 11 points.
Earlier, prolific swingman Adrian Stewart was held to a season-low 12 points as Cougars slumped to their third straight loss in an 85-72 rout by the lowly Colombian Emeralds International Senators.
Romaine Lovell had 23 points and ten rebounds while Selwyn Brooks scored 21 for Senators (2-4), who notched their second win by turning an 18-17 lead into a 46-36 advantage before blowing open a 20-point third-quarter advantage.
Steven Callender led Cougars (2-3) with 22 points and Shawn Gaskin had a double-double of 16 points and 13 boards.