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Three on a roll for Pinelands


JUSTIN MARVILLE

Three on a roll for Pinelands

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FAR FROM SUPER, and no longer perfect, Smalta Pinelands are probably happy with being healthy right now.
Basketball’s big pre-season favourites are finally at full strength, and not a game too soon, as Pinelands needed everything they had to survive Thursday’s gruelling 73-62 win over Warriors in the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League at the Wildey Gym.
It was the third straight win – and fifth in six games – for a high-powered Pine side, which had its top ten rotation players all available for the first time after welcoming back Daniel Lovell from injury.
And the timing just couldn’t have been better, with the season’s first match-up against the unbeaten Lumber Company LSC looming tonight in a rematch of last year’s finals.
But there was simply no looking past Warriors, not on a night when the Dayrells Road men gave them all they could handle, including the most daunting of second-half comebacks.
All this coming on the heels of Charles Vanderpool’s best performance of the season, where the Pine big man could do no wrong while putting Pinelands up 16 (44-28) as early as the second quarter.
They maintained that cushion after the break, while Vanderpool’s frontcourt mate Junior Moore sent some clear messages to Trevor Simmons at both ends of the floor.
Warriors also had something to say though, as Daniel Durant responded with three long jumpers in succession before Seon Hilliman got in on the act as part of a surreal 16-6 rally.
Jeremy Gill ended the rally with a tough lay-up, and Vanderpool added an “and-one” basket of his own to help Pinelands regain a double digit lead (60-50) early in the fourth.
However, Durant was back at it again, turning two Pine turnovers into fast-break layups while Randy Simmons connected on a long two to cut the deficit to just six (62-56).
But Vanderpool never wavered, thrice denying transition layups on back-to-back possessions, before coming up with a steal of his own and then scoring in traffic for another three-point play (69-56).
Hilliman hit another trey thereafter, but that all proved cosmetic in the final minute once Moore had two uncontested layups to seal the deal.
It was far from the finish Pinelands had initially expected after Vanderpool’s big 13-point first quarter gave them an early 23-15 advantage.
He finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks for Pinelands, who improved to a 5-1 record. Moore added 16 points, while Gill and Simmons scored 15 and 12 points, respectively. Durant and Hilliman led Warriors (4-3) with 16 points apiece.
Earlier, Akeem Marsh had 20 points and 14 rebounds as Urban Vybz St John’s Sonics bounced back to whip lowly Challengers 85-54.
Romaine Lovell had 19 points off the bench, while Shane Whittaker and Stefan Clarke scored 16 and 15 points, respectively to help Sonics improve to a 3-2 record.
For Challengers (1-6), Antoine Yearwood had 15 points in his first game of the season while Ramon Ward added ten.

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