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Pinelands puncture Sonics’ dream

Justin Marville

Pinelands puncture Sonics’ dream

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Sonics’ dreams of making the play-offs are just that now.
On a night two teams punched tickets to the postseason, Urban Vybz St John’s Sonics have been all but kicked out of the picture following Tuesday’s 84-60 defeat by Smalta Pinelands in the Co-operators General Insurance Basketball Premier League at the Wildey Gym.
It’s just the latest setback for a reeling St John’s side that has now dropped three of their last four games since the league’s leading scorer Akeem Marsh went down with a torn medial collateral ligament.
More importantly, though, the result means Sonics – who own a 6-7 record – will have to win their final three contests, and still hope Cougars (8-5) go winless in that span just to reach the play-offs.
There’s no such concern for the Pine now, with the super-powered league leaders extending their season’s best winning streak to nine games to book a second straight postseason appearance.
But it wasn’t as easy as the score suggested, not after St John’s gave the Pine all they could handle in a whirlwind back-and-forth first 15 minutes of a potential play-off match.
However, Sonics didn’t muster anything else once Jeremy Gill sparked a 15-8 Pine finish to the half before St John’s were held to just two field goals during a 20-8 third quarter rout.
They were two of the more unsuspecting of runs as St John’s looked certain of sticking around until Gill transformed back-to-back turnovers into fast-break scores that broke open an initial 28-27 cushion.
Vanderpool then got in on the act with baskets from the high post before Gill returned to hit a huge trey in transition that put Pinelands ahead 43-35 at the break.
The run was far from done, though, with Sonics turning over their first possession to start the half while Gill followed with two more triples to fuel the rout.
Halley Franklyn added a more traditional three-point play and another fast-break lay-up as the lead ballooned to as many as 19 points (63-44) in the third quarter.
It didn’t help matters any that Shane Whittaker, Romaine Lovell and Stefan Clarke all went cold from the floor at the same time against what could only be described as a stifling defensive effort.
And this was after they ran amok against a lethargic Pinelands side that seemed all too willing to watch Whittaker and Clarke launch uncontested jumpers in the first quarter.
But the Pine also allowed Kellman to make a living at the ring while the two sides traded buckets up until the midway point of the second period.
Gill, who went six of eight from deep, finished with 24 points, nine assists, seven steals and six rebounds for Pinelands (11-1), while Vanderpool had 18 points and seven blocks, and Franklyn ended with 13 points and nine boards. Lovell and Whittaker scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, for Sonics.
Earlier, Jamar King had a season-high 23 points as defending champs Lumber Company LSC booked a record tenth straight postseason berth following a 98-47 thrashing of cellar dwellers Challengers.
The injury-riddled last-placed side barely avoided the infamy of giving up a fourth consecutive score of over 100 points when LSC (11-1) only managed 38 points in the fourth quarter.
At least the champs made those 38 special, with King hitting four treys before Mark Bridgeman soared over Adrian “Dollar” Byone for a callous one-handed facial and the foul.
Adrian Allman added 16 points, Bridgeman had 14 while Keefe Birkett and Ian Alexander chipped in with 13 and 12 points respectively. Antoine Yearwood was the lone Challengers player in double digits with 15.