Cougars edge Sonics
AKEEM MARSH isn’t the only thing hurting in St John’s.
Try their play-off hopes.
Godfrey Leacock had 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including the eventual go-ahead triple, as Cougars earned themselves some breathing room via Wednesday’s 83-80 thriller over Urban Vybz St John’s Sonics in the Co-operators General Basketball Premier League at the Wildey Gym.
The win moved Cougars one and a half games ahead of the Gall Hill men for the fourth and final postseason spot, with Sonics losing their last two fixtures in the absence of their injured big man.
Yet Sonics still had hopes of a win, even without Marsh, having led by as many 14 points before holding a 67-61 fourth-quarter advantage.
But there was no stopping Cougars, particularly Leacock, who sandwiched buckets from Ricardo Jemmott and Damien Nicholls with big treys – the last of which put Cougars on top 71-70.
And he wasn’t done there either, he returned for a pair of lay-ups, including one in transition off a nifty touch pass from Selwyn Brooks (77-72).
Sonics got back within one point (77-76) following scores from Shane Whittaker and Stefan Clarke, before Jemmott threw down Whittaker off a jab step to put Cougars ahead by two-possessions (82-78).
St John’s weren’t out of it yet though, as Dwayne Kellman had a quick score, then Cougars had an erroneous shot-clock violation call that gave Sonics a chance to tie the game with 28.9 seconds left.
However, Sonics came up just short when Clarke’s step-back trey did as such, before Brooks’ free throw provided the final margin.
It was the thrilling finish to a contest that appeared to be anything but while Sonics built an early 28-16 lead on the back of Whittaker’s four first-quarter treys.
Romaine Lovell was then turned loose for easy lay-ups as St John’s built on that advantage even further for a telling 38-24 cushion.
But the tide turned thereafter, with Cougars switching to a 2-3 zone after reigning MVP Adrian Stewart started the rally with a neat coast-to-coast lay-up.
With Sonics failing to get back in transition, Jemmott and Nicholls merely beat everyone up the floor in an open court attack that fuelled Cougars’ 14-5 finish to the half (43-38).
And the run wasn’t done there, not after Leacock hit back-to-back triples on the other side of the break to guide Cougars to their first lead of the game (46-43).
Nicholls finished with 18 points, Jemmott added 17, while Brooks and Stewart scored 11 and ten points respectively for Cougars, who improved to a 7-5 record.
Whittaker led Sonics (5-6) with 22 points and 13 boards, Clarke scored 16 points, Kellman had 13 points and 12 rebounds while Lovell also scored 13.
Earlier, Kenny Matthews had a career-best 40 points, including 24 in the third quarter, as Warriors moved one game back of Cougars following a 104-61 thumping of the injury-ravaged Challengers.
Warriors already had a 44-31 half-time cushion before Matthews went on his personal highlight show with 16 straight points, inclusive of two treys, to start the third quarter.
Matthews added two more triples to end the quarter, and the nightmare for a Challengers side that surrendered a record third straight 100-point game.
Nicholai Williams added 26 points for Warriors (5-5), who featured new Hilton Barbados general manager George Stanfield in their line-up, while Junior Wilson led Challengers (1-10) with 17 points.