Warrens tame Cougars
THE BRAWL is long gone and now the fight is over for Cougars.
Basketball’s Premier League play-off field has been decided, right along with Cougars’ fate to miss another postseason, as Warrens closed the first half on a decisive 15-2 run to book the final play-off berth following Saturday’s 82-63 blowout at the Wildey Gym.
The result secured a third successive postseason appearance for Warrens – who improved to 11-5 – while also locking the idle St John’s Sonics (11-5) into the four-team play-off bracket.
But it proved the untimely end to what seemed an unlikely Cinderella run from a Cougars side (7-8) that threatened to make a charge for the Final Four after winning three straight games and five of their last six.
And what made the run all the more improbable is that it came directly on the heels of a telling six-game losing streak when Cougars looked primed for demotion while dealing with the fallout of the Warriors brawl.
If only they had reserved such fight for this contest.
Cougars couldn’t have picked a worse time to lay an egg, squandering the opportunity to move a game and a half back of Warrens in the table by meekly watching Warrens score 15 of the second quarter’s last 17 points.
It came without resistance, too, as Griffith scored on the easiest pair of “pin-downs” before Manuel Alleng, Peter Alleyne and Greig Springer formed a virtual lay-up line while Warrens comfortably pushed each Cougars missed shot in transition.
And there were a lot of misses to choose from.
With prolific swingman Adrian Stewart – the league’s leading scorer – going a woeful one for eight from the floor in the second quarter, Cougars managed just eight points all period to fall behind 36-20 after entering the second trailing by just three (15-12).
The ensuing third was even worse, as Springer and Alleng continued to get “freebies” in the open court before Zahir Motara made good on some open looks behind the arc as part of a 26-10 surge (56-30).
At one point Griffith stood up straight and simply took the ball off the finger tips of a jump-shooting Stevenson Callender, while Springer finished a backdoor alley-oop at the other end.
To rub salt in the wound, Motara hooked up with Clive Holder on a series of no-look passes before ending the quarter with a buzzer-beating triple.
Springer finished with 17 points, Motara and Alleng both scored 14, Holder added 12 while Griffith and Gavin Robinson chipped in with ten points apiece. For Cougars, Shawn Gaskin had 16 points and 18 points, Callender scored 14 and Stewart ended with 13 points.
In the day’s first game, Halley Franklyn had a game-high 22 points and Clapham rattled off 27 unanswered points in the first half as the Bulls ensured they would avoid demotion via an 84-41 demolition of Co-operators General Tridents.
With the game tied at 4 with 6:11 to play in the first quarter, Clapham held the schoolboys scoreless until the opening 26 seconds of the ensuing second after going on a backbreaking 27-0 run (31-4).
Decarlo Skeete added 16 points and Ryan Leacock scored 16 in a win that put the Bulls (7-8) out of Senators (3-12) in the demotion race. Kareem Neblett led the relegation-exempt schoolboys (1-15).