LSC sock it to Cavs
THE RIVALRY that once defined basketball’s top flight doesn’t look like much of one right now.
Score one for Lumber Company LSC after Keefe Birkett had ten of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to help the defending champs to a 78-61 win over Station Hill Cavaliers in Sunday’s opening of the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League at the Wildey Gym.
It was a surprisingly large margin of victory for a series that has seen the two teams split eight of the last ten league titles while featuring a number of epic finishes.
But that wasn’t the case in this latest round, not once LSC limited their turnovers in the second half to keep Station Hill out of transition and the paint as the key to a game-changing 15-2 run in the third quarter.
This was after the Cavs threatened to make a game of the contest earlier, taking advantage of the short-handed champs’ absence of a true point guard by pressing LSC into multiple turnovers that led to several points in the paint.
At one stage Station Hill went on a 10-1 rally to finish the first quarter before taking the lead on an impressive coast-to-coast lay-up from point guard Stefan Yard.
They even held a two-possession lead after trailing by as many,nine points, before Birkett gave a sign of the things to come with a buzzer-beating triple off the glass just before the half-time horn.
It was all one-way traffic from there once centre Andre Boadu opened the half with an impressive and-one play underneath against multiple defenders.
Mark Bridgeman and Adrian Allman both converted steals into fast-break lay-ups thereafter before Birkett knocked down a huge trey and scored off a pair of dribble drives to open a 57-44 lead.
The Cavs still managed to stick around though, with Kevin Sealy ending the third quarter via a traditional three-point play (59-50) before he returned to hit a triple that kept Station Hill within striking distance (69-59).
However, Cavaliers only managed one more basket the rest of the way while Bridgeman had a pair of lay-ups sandwiching five straight points from Birkett, who sank yet another back-breaking trey with 1:08 to play.
Earlier, LSC looked certain of blowing their rivals off the court when they made their five first shots from the field, including three straight treys as part of a 15-6 start to the contest.
But the short-handed Husbands side, which was missing three starters, Andre Lockhart, Ian Alexander and Omari Corbin on the night, only added a further free throw for the remainder of the first quarter while Station Hill made every effort to chase Birkett and Allman off the line.
The result was a game-tying 10-1 rally that carried over to the subsequent second quarter when Jason Smith maintained Cavs’ momentum by sinking a long three-pointer on the game’s resumption.
Bridgeman eventually finished with 17 points, Allman added 15 while Boadu had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Corey Howard was the lone Cavs player in double digits with 15.
In the night’s first game, swingman Stefan Clarke scored 20 points to lead five players in double digits as Urban Vybz St John’s Sonics rolled to a routine 87-54 season-opening victory against Combined Schools Tridents.
The schoolboys were actually in the game as late as the second quarter, pulling within one point (19-18) when their second unit regularly turned Sonics over for numerous points in the open floor.
Even when St John’s countered with transition baskets of their own to end the half Tridents were still only down by eight (35-28) at the break.
But Dwayne Kellman got a series of key offensive rebounds that led to easy scores before Clarke blew the contest wide open with a pair of treys that spurred a 28-8 Sonics run (63-39).
Akeem Marsh added 17 points and 12 rebounds, Rommel Garnes and Romaine Lovell both scored 11 while Kellman had ten points and 12 boards. Reserve guard Jaré Alleyne led Tridents with 14 points.