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Sonics pip Challengers


Randy Bennett

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Urban Vybz St John’s Sonics tried their hardest to lose Sunday’s Premier League basketball matchup against Challengers.
Luckily for them, their opponents tried a little bit harder.
Sonics, one of the pre-tournament favourites, rallied from being down six with just over a minute to play before coming away with a nail-biting 62-61 at the YMCA.
In a lacklustre performance, Sonics went a disastrous nine of 18 from the free throw line in the final quarter, but somehow managed to come away with the win.
The defeat will be a hard pill to swallow for a Challengers side that led 61-55 with 1:23 minutes on the clock, but failed to score on any of their final three possessions.
To make things worse, with 22 seconds remaining and Challengers holding a 61-60 lead, Antonio Yearwood’s inbound pass was stolen by Akeem Marsh, leading to Marsh’s game winner, a baseline jumper with just six seconds remaining in the contest.
A Sonics’ victory had seemed unlikely and a major upset looked on the cards when Challengers were busy building a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter.
With Julian Grant keeping Marsh quiet while wreaking havoc on Sonics’ defence, Challengers transformed a close 28-23 half-time score into a 15-point lead (38-23) three minutes into the third quarter.
Sonics finally scored after four minutes of play, with Marsh’s two free throws not only ending Challenger’s run, but triggering one of their own.
It resulted in an 11-0 surge which helped to cut the deficit to four (34-38) with 4:33 left in the period.
Despite Sonics’ fightback, Challengers still took a six-point lead heading into the final quarter (47-41), with spectators vociferously predicting an upset.
That lead quickly disappeared within two minutes, though, as Shane Whittaker’s strong move to the basket and Marsh’s thunderous dunk helped to tie the scores at 49.
Neil Patrick and Alwyn Lovell then added layups of their own to restore a four-point lead to Challengers (53-49), before Sonics’ struggles from the free throw line ensued.
Marsh finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Ramon Simmons scored 13 and Whittaker added 10 to help Sonics improve their record to 8-2.
Grant led Challengers – who dropped to 4-6 – with 14 points and Lovell scored 13.
Pinelands (7-3) continued their play-off push with a comprehensive 85-54 win over the Combined Schools Tridents (0-11) in the night’s first game.

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