Lester Vaughan in final
LESTER VAUGHAN will get their shot to stop Graydon Sealy’s run at perfection.
Zachary Cave had eight of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, including two crucial layups inside the final minute as Lester Vaughan held off a furious late-game rally before edging St Leonard’s 63-58 in yesterday’s United Insurance Schools’ basketball semi-finals at the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
It was a gripping last-second thriller, much unlike the prior final four contest that saw pre-tournament favourites Graydon Sealy extend their unbeaten streak in a 67-31 domination of defending champs Ellerslie.
Lester Vaughan at one stage also threatened to run away with their contest, having held St Leonard’s to just nine first-quarter points before building a menacing 41-29 cushion behind Cave and Gabriel Trotman.
However, Jaquan Greenidge led the unlikeliest of comebacks as the unheralded southpaw routinely got behind Lester Vaughan’s slow transition defence for easy open court baskets as part of a furious 12-2 run (43-41).
Cave seemingly ended the surge though, having leaked out for a fast break basket that was quickly followed by layups from Brandon Hope, Gabriel Trotman and Brett Williams (59-50).
But St Leonard’s refused to go away, as Antoine Lawrence buried a huge trey before a Rachad Mapp free throw and another Greenidge layup brought them within three (59-56) with just 56 seconds to play.
They got no closer though, not once Cave responded with back to back baskets in the dying moments right after Lawrence missed what would’ve been another big three-pointer. Trotman finished with 16 points while Lawrence led St Leonard’s with 23.
Earlier, Graydon Sealy moved within a game of completing an unbeaten run to their latest after completely dominating Ellerslie in a 36-point rout.
It was all one-way traffic in a contest that wasn’t much of any after Ellerslie fell behind by double digits in the first quarter while failing to score for the game’s first four and a half minutes. And it only got worse just minutes later when Kadeem “Eyes” Brathwaite was forced to the bench when he picked up his third foul with Graydon Sealy already up 16-6.
To their credit, Ellerslie stayed within ten for the early stages of the second period as their zone kept prolific combo guard Andrew Ifill in check.
However they didn’t account for Ifill’s backcourt mate Shaquan Newton, who attacked in transition and off the dribble to extend the advantage to a comfortable 28-10 half-time cushion.
It was on the other side of the break that Graydon Sealy really did their damage though, with Ifill proving a virtual one-man fast break following three transition buckets and an open court assist to Justin Pile.
Ifill added a trey for good measure, putting the favourites up by as many as 32 (44-12) before Brathwaite tried to make the margin a respectable one, via three successive layups.
But not even that was enough to save Ellerslie from the embarrassment of a blowout as Pile, Ifill and Newton all sank triples one after the other to open the fourth quarter as part of a conclusive 17-1 surge (67-25).
Ifill led all scorers with 27 points, Newton and Pile added 18 and 17 points respectively while Brathwaite was the lone player in double digits for Ellerslie with 15 points.