Trey the hard way
IT WAS THEIR first ever finals appearance.
They were facing the game’s best player delivering his finest performance yet.
But the stage that was supposed to be too big for Warrens was no match for the club’s biggest shot.
Premier League basketball’s next best rivalry – and its finals – might just have had their most memorable moment yet, after George Farrell hit a game-winning trey at the buzzer to eclipse Andre Lockhart’s all-time effort in Warrens’ 70-69 Game 1 thriller over Lumber Company Lakers at the Wildey Gym on Saturday night.
The stunning last-second finish provided the perfect story line for a game that wasn’t wanting for one, with the finals debutants matching up against a squad that knocked them out of the last two postseasons.
This time it was Warrens delivering the knockout punch on the unlikeliest of endings following what should have been Lockhart’s game-winning performance.
It was a finals performance for the ages, with the star point guard hitting one big shot after another to carry a woeful Lakers outfit that needed every one of his career-best 35 points just to make a game of it down the stretch.
And it was there that Lockhart was at his flawless best, scoring nine fourth-quarter points including two game-tying treys inside the final minute that wiped away a six-point deficit before he assisted Mark Bridgeman on a go-ahead jumper with ten seconds remaining.
Clearly, that was more than enough time for Lakers’ latest heartbreak.
Shutting down the initial Peter Alleyne drive, the champs also closed out on sharp-shooter Zahir Motara, who was forced into taking a step in off an up-fake before taking an errant, long contested jumper. But as they did the whole night, Lakers failed to haul in the ensuing defensive rebound and the ball bounced nicely out to Farrell on the right wing for him to step back and nail the jumper at the horn to the crowd’s astonishment.
The shot – the greatest in Warrens’ brief history – is just one in a long line of postseason gut-wrenching moments for the Lakers following a triple-overtime marathon defeat and an extra-time loss in the 2010 series with Cavs before last year’s one-point Game 1 stunner against the same opponents.
Lakers, though, probably were lucky just to be able to lose in such fashion, having delivered one of their worst offensive efforts to fall behind by as many 12 points (31-19) late in the second quarter.
This wasn’t for a lack of defence from Warrens, who were extremely disciplined in chasing every Lakers shooter off the line while Pearson Griffith and Dario Cumberbatch got some easy scores prior to a run-capping Motara triple (31-19).
Warrens fell apart with a series of turnovers to start the half, though, as Lockhart turned the game into his own highlight show with a string of pull-up jumpers and tough knifing drives to single-handedly spur a 21-10 rally.
However, those efforts seemingly weren’t enough once Warrens went ahead 67-61 late in the contest on a pair of Farrell drives surrounded by Alleyne’s trey and a coast-to-coast layup.
Lockhart was far from finished though, sinking two clutch treys – the last coming right in Alleyne’s face – before a late Warrens turnover led to Bridgeman’s crucial jumper.
Farrell ended with 14 points, Alleyne added 13 points and 11 boards while Griffith scored ten. Ian Alexander scored 12 points for Lakers, who were scheduled to look for a series-tying Game 2 victory last night at the Barbados Community College.