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Pinelands, LSC start with routs

Justin Marville

Pinelands, LSC start with routs

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Turns out these play-offs really were predictable, at least the first games, as Smalta Pinelands and Lumber Company LSC moved a step closer to that awaited finals rematch following Thursday’s opening round routs in the Co-operators General Insurance Basketball Premier League play-offs at the Wildey Gym.
Spurred by yet another Ramon Simmons long-range onslaught, the Pine survived a threatening third-quarter rally en route to blasting Cougars 97-56, before Keefe Birkett launched his own arsenal from deep in the champs’ 79-59 walk-over of Station Hill Cavaliers.
It all came together to produce one disappointing opening act for a hotly anticipated postseason that was being hyped as one of the most wide open ever.
Instead, the script simply followed the form book to the letter – and the results from a regular season where the top seeds swept both match-ups quite convincingly.
The outcome of the Pine-Cougars opener really shouldn’t have been surprising either, not after the pre-season favourites were just two days removed from whipping the same opponents by 61.
And Simmons just picked up where he left off, following up a record ten treys on Tuesday with seven more in a game Pinelands led by as many as 24 (46-22) in the first half.
This time, though, there was some intrigue to the re-enactment, with Cougars actually putting up a fight after erasing all but three of a 25-point deficit (51-26) in one surreal third-quarter run.
But the real surge was that of Simmons, who literally shot down the rally with three treys in succession to end the period as part of an unbelievable 40-2 finish to the contest.
It looked all too familiar, considering Cougars managed just eight first-quarter points in one nervous start, while Pinelands were busy running up and down the floor for uncontested lay-ups and even more wide-open three-pointers.
What started as a 26-8 hole then quickly grew into a 48-26 half-time rout by the time Adrian Stewart’s frustration led to a needless technical late in the second period.
However, Cougars’ subsequent switch to a 3-2 zone paid immediate dividends, before Godfrey Leacock’s big trey kick-started a furious run of points in the open floor created off turnovers.
When it wasn’t Damien Nicholls filling the lane for lay-ups, Leacock simply leaked out for some of his own until Stewart hit a huge fade-away triple with the clock expiring to cut the lead to three (57-54).
But Simmons answered with one from the corner, before hitting two more to all but end the threat for a listless Cougars   that managed a further two points in the entire fourth quarter.
Simmons finished with 31 points, Charles Vanderpool had 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Junior Moore added 13 points. Leacock and Ricardo Jemmott led Cougars with 14 points apiece.
There were no such moments in the latter contest though, as LSC put an end to all the rivalry talk by scoring 12 of the game’s first 16 points before maintaining a double-digit lead the rest of the way from as early as the first quarter.
Kelvin Patterson’s initial entry resulted in seven unanswered points (12-11) in that same period, but the champs merely swarmed the disruptive big man thereafter, bringing three defenders on the ball anywhere on the floor he touched the rock.
And it was all Birkett from there, as the combo guard ended the quarter with a buzzer-beating triple (25-14), before returning to hit another after Mark Bridgeman led LSC’s attack in the open floor.
As if that wasn’t enough, Bridgeman too beat the half-time horn with a trey (46-22), and then watched as Birkett sank three more long-range bombs in the third to put LSC ahead by as many as 30 (62-22).
Birkett finished with 25 points and eight assists, Ian Alexander scored 16, while Bridgeman had 13 points. Corey Howard led Station Hill with 12 points, Patterson and Jamario Clarke both scored ten.
Game 2 is tonight at the same venue.