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LSC keep Cougars waiting

Justin Marville

LSC keep Cougars waiting

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Another play-off appearance for Cougars?
No, not just yet.
Keefe Birkett had ten straight points in the third quarter to spark a game-changing 18-4 rally, before Lumber Company LSC romped in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s 72-61 comeback over Cougars in the Co-operators General Insurance Basketball Premier League at the Wildey Gym.
The win was the fifth in as many games for the defending league champs, who had booked their tenth straight post-season berth two nights earlier.
There weren’t any such assurances for Cougars, though, with the men of Hothersal blowing an opportunity to officially eliminate St John’s Sonics from play-off contention.
And they actually looked certain of strengthening their grip on fourth place, having netted 12 of the game’s first 16 points, and then holding LSC scoreless over the second half’s opening three minutes en route to taking a 46-37 lead.
But Birkett put his  stamp on the proceedings by closing out the quarter with 12 points, including ten straight in a stretch where Cougars simply had no answer for the prolific combo guard.
With LSC struggling to get anything going, Birkett eventually broke the shackles after deciding to put his head down for back-to-back lay-ups off dribble drives and a deft floater in the key.
He wasn’t done attacking the paint either, not after earning a pair of free throws off another drive before Jamar King scored the go-ahead basket on the very next trip (50-48).
Birkett then added a short jumper for good measure prior to Ian Alexander’s emphatic two-handed slam over Godfrey Leacock that also drew a foul.
Birkett continued to prove a thorn in Cougars’ side, even in the fourth quarter when he sandwiched two more scores with an assist on a long Alexander jumper (61-50).
Leacock and Nicky King only made things worse for Cougars by hoisting contested treys early in the shot-clock, all while star forward Ricardo Jemmott went minutes without touching the ball.
Worse yet, reigning MVP Adrian Stewart sat on the bench for the entire period in spite of his side’s offensive woes – illustrated by the ghastly four-of-19 showing from the field.
It was a far different tale from Cougars’ explosive start to a potential play-off preview where they routinely turned LSC over for quick transition scores.
Leacock’s back-to-back triples only exacerbated the run, which would’ve been more had Damien Nicholls converted a pair of uncontested lay-ups.
LSC clawed back from that 12-4 hole via timely buckets from Ormond Haynes before the two postseason rivals traded baskets back and forth for the duration of the second quarter.
But that exchange quickly came to an end on the other side of the break, as the champs couldn’t buy bucket, while Cougars scored six points unanswered to open the half.
Alexander finished with 16 points, Birkett added eight assists and seven rebounds while Boadu chipped in with a season-high 21 rebounds for the league-leaders, who improved to a 12-1 record.
Nicholls and Leacock both had 16 points for Cougars (8-6), who remained ahead of Sonics (6-7) and Warriors (5-6) ºfor the fourth and final play-off berth.
Earlier, Kelvin Patterson gave his critics a reminder of his worth with a game-high 23 points in just his second game back as Station Hill Cavaliers moved one step closer to qualifying for the postseason following a 99-62 rout of Warrens.
Kevin Sealy had 16 points and Jason Smith added 11 for the Cavs (10-4), while Greig Springer led Warrens (3-10) with 17 points.