Pinelands’ Thorpe takes over
TWO GAMES. Two wins.
All too easy.
Score another big one for basketball’s new super team as Rico Thorpe had a career-best 29 points to lead Smalta Pinelands in a comfortable 78-65 victory over Warrens on Sunday in the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League at the Wildey Gym.
It was the second double-digit win in as many matches for a high-powered Pine side that garnered all the off-season headlines for the addition of stars Ramon Simmons, Junior Moore and Halley Franklyn to a side fresh from last year’s finals.
But the home-grown talent shone brightest on this night, with Thorpe going an incredible 11 of 14 from the field in a breakout performance that saw the athletic swingman flying all over the floor.
He set the tone from the opening tip, scoring his team’s first five points including a big fast-break jam before capping Pinelands’ 21-11 first-quarter lead with a buzzer-beating floater.
And every time Warrens threatened in the next period behind Lance Posey and Pearson Griffith, Thorpe was there to squash the rally with help from Moore.
The Pine led by as many as 16 (60-44) in the third quarter after Charles Vanderpool started the half with back-to-back baskets while Thorpe hit a couple jumpers prior to Moore’s “and-one” play.
Warrens weren’t done yet, though, as Posey and Griffith started to impose their will in the paint after getting a brief spark off jumpers from Richie Walker and Greig Springer.
They just never got any closer than ten (64-54) thereafter, following Moore’s short jumper and successive scores from Thorpe, including a timely backdoor cut for a two-handed throw-down (71-54). He even added a pair of free throws for good measure before Franklyn duly put the game to bed with a basket of his own.
Moore finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds for Pinelands, who improved to a 2-0 record, while Vanderpool added 14 points. Griffith led Warrens (2-0) with 13 points, Walker had 12 and Posey 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Earlier, shooting guard Seon Hilliman scored 26 points off the bench to give Warriors their first win of the season via a 76-59 blowout of the winless Combined Schools Tridents.
Kenny Matthews added 18 points and Daniel Durant scored 12 as Warriors went on an 11-3 run to end the first quarter before leading by as many as 24 (44-20) in the first half. Trevor Simmons chipped in with 11 points for Warriors (1-1).
Nikolai Burton top-scored for the schoolboys (0-3) with 20 points.