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Cavs book play-offs berth

Justin Marville

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No Andrew Alleyne.
No Kelvin Patterson. No Corey Williams, Errol Pollard or Ricardo Yearwood.
Out with the veterans and into the play-offs.
Junior Moore had a game-high 23 points, including five during a decisive 15-8 fourth-quarter run as basketball’s Premier League leaders Mpact Station Hill Cavaliers became the first side to book a post-season berth following Saturday’s gritty 64-56 win over Clapham Bulls at the YMCA.
What was supposed to be a season of rebuilding turned into the year that Cavs returned to the play-offs after they had a string of seven straight post-season appearances snapped last season.
And it proved nothing but a year of turmoil as the Cavs endured everything from Yearwood’s infamous dropkick to losing five of their first seven contests and the highly publicized rift among their veterans.
What a difference a year can make!
Without five of their most senior players, these cardiac Cavs have fast-tracked the rebuilding process by winning eight of their last ten games, and 12 of 15 overall, to put themselves in line for an unprecedented seventh Premier League cup.
It hasn’t been without trial either.
Station Hill survived yet another anxious fourth quarter following their now customary late-game rally – this one a 15-8 surge started by Moore and capped by Darren Hunte’s four straight free throws.
This was after Clapham threatened to steal one against their long-time rivals by holding the Cavs scoreless over the first four minutes of the fourth quarter while scoring five unanswered points to cut a seven-point deficit to a close 48-46 affair.
But Moore hit a short jumper to end the drought before finishing an “and-one” play moments later that sandwiched Hunte’s crucial baseline drive (57-50).
Bulls point guard Rahiim Gibbons responded with a pair of free throws at the other end, only to watch Hunte get fouled on successive possessions and seal the deal at the charity stripe. Forward Andre Jean-Pierre added a lay-up for good measure to extend the lead to nine (63-54) inside the final minute.
It proved a rather forgettable finish to what was an ugly slugfest that featured three technicals and one unsportsmanlike foul – which combined to equal the number of three-pointers in the entire game.
And no one led by more than Clapham’s six points (20-14) in the first half until Kevin Sealy scored three successive third-quarter drives as the Cavs accounted for 14 of the last 15 points in the period to turn a 40-34 deficit into a 48-41 lead.
Sealy finished with 13 points, Hunte scored 11 while Moore added 13 rebounds. For Clapham (6-8), who fell to seventh place and three games behind Warrens (9-5) for the final play-off spot, Ryan Leacock top-scored with 17 points and Gibbons ended with 16.
Earlier, 41-year-old Adrian Stewart added to his league-leading scoring average with a season-high 39 points as Cougars recorded their first ever three-game winning streak in the top flight with a 79-47 rout of relegation-bound Colombian Emeralds International Senators.
Stevenson Callender added 20 points for Cougars, who improved to 7-7 and kept their slim post-season hopes alive. Selwyn Brooks led Senators (3-11) with 18 points, Nicholas Jones scored 15 and Kevin Francis had ten.