Pine win one
Seems Pinelands can win a finals game after all.
So much for that second sweep, as Jeremy Gill scored the game-winning lay-up with 18 seconds left to help the Pine extend the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League basketball finals via Saturday’s gripping 70-66 game 3 win over Lumber Company LSC at the Barbados Community College.
It was the thrilling finish to a game Pinelands just had to win after surrendering a commanding 2-0 lead to the defending champs, who seemed certain of sweeping them in the title series for a second successive season.
Even head coach Renaldo Maughan shockingly wrote off his own charges, publicly going on air to say they had no chance of beating their more cohesive counterparts.
And his words very nearly came to pass, with LSC rallying all the way back from a 63-50 deficit at the 4:15 mark to tie the game at 66 on a pair of Andre Boadu free throws inside the final minute.
They almost took the lead too, as Halley Franklyn turned over the ball on the ensuing play, leaving his team outnumbered on LSC’s subsequent possession in transition.
But he came from behind to steal the ball right back, before finding Gill – who was lucky not to turn over the ball himself – streaking down the left side for the go-ahead score with 18 ticks remaining.
The champs still had a chance to force overtime, but Ian Alexander settled for a mid range jumper over two defenders, and then was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Junior Moore when he was forced to stop the clock off the ensuing miss.
It proved the wild finish to a contest Pinelands looked certain of putting away in the first half, when Gill rebounded from his seven-point Game 2 showing by aggressively taking matters in his own hands.
The Pine actually led by as many as 16 (30-16), with Moore and Vanderpool sparking a 10-2 run in transition to start the second quarter, before maintaining that double-digit advantage (48-35) in the third on a series of second-chance opportunities.
Even when Keefe Birkett threatened with seven quick points early in the fourth Pinelands had an answer each time down, as Ramon Simmons hit a huge step-back trey prior to leaking out for a big dunk that put them up 63-50 with 4:15 left.
However, for the third time in as many games this series, the champs staged another late-game comeback, getting a pair of long jumpers from Jamar King before Birkett’s back-to-back triples (65-62) turned the contest into a one-possession game.
King wasn’t done there either, attacking the rack for a tough lay-up over Vanderpool mere moments before Boadu rattled home a pair of game-tying free throws with 42 seconds remaining.
Gill just wouldn’t be denied this time though, getting lucky to recover a deflected pass and beating everyone down the court for the game-winning lefty lay-up.
He led all scorers with 23 points, Simmons scored 17 while Moore added 14 points and 11 boards. For LSC, who can still clinch their fifth title tomorrow night at the Wildey Gym, Birkett finished with 22 points and Mark Bridgeman scored ten.