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Pinelands force Game 5

Justin Marville

Pinelands force Game 5

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Andre Lockhart didn’t play after all.
Apparently neither did his Lakers for the last five minutes.
The finals are heading to a Game 5, as Jeremy Gill had ten fourth-quarter points before Charles Vanderpool scored the game-winning put-back with 13.8 seconds left, capping Pinelands’ miraculous 65-62 comeback over Lumber Company LSC in the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League basketball playoffs.
Depending on the perspective, the Wildey Gym was a scene of either pure amazement or absolute shock, with Pinelands rallying from down 11 (60-49) with 4:22 remaining to force the unlikeliest of title deciders.
More stunning still, though, was the questionable status of the overseas-based Lockhart. The country’s best player was not even included in the line-up despite returning from England a day ahead of Game 4.
And not even he could believe the events that unfolded, watching in complete astonishment while Vanderpool followed up his own miss for the go-ahead score.
Now the team that was left for dead in a 0-2 hole is very much alive and well.
Yet that diagnosis never looked likely when Adrian Allman capped a run of seven unanswered LSC points with a trey plus an “and-one” lay-up to punctuate his team’s late 60-49 lead.
Gill refused to go quietly though, sandwiching a Junior Moore put-back with a free throw and an ensuing lay-up off a steal that made the contest a two-possession game (60-54).
However, Keefe Birkett quickly responded with a high-arching floater, before Allman got away for a certain game-clinching lay-up just seconds later.
But he made a ripe mess of the uncontested attempt, blowing the lay-up by opting to go for a reverse, then only to watch Ian Alexander miss an even easier tip-in, before Andre Boadu shanked two free throws on Moore’s subsequent unsportsmanlike foul.
Gill didn’t waste time making them pay for those foul-ups either, forcing turnovers on back-to-back possessions which he converted into lay-ups, including the game-tying basket with 52 seconds left.
Alexander promptly settled for a bad pull-up jumper at the other end, and then watched Matthew Moore get beat to the boards by Vanderpool after the Pine forward was forced into a difficult shot.
LSC still had a chance to go for the outright win, but Birkett’s pass to a curling Allman in the corner went high and behind the diminutive guard.
It capped one epic collapse for a champion team that was watching Pinelands do all of the melting down in these finals en route to what seemed a commanding 2-0 series lead.
Worse yet, LSC appeared to be in control even before the onset of the fourth quarter, with the champs taking advantage of Gill’s foul trouble by closing the third on a 14-3 run.
From the moment Gill went to the bench Ormond Haynes hit a short jumper to key a surge that included baskets from Birkett and Alexander and a pair of knifing Allman drives (48-37).
However, Lakers struggled to keep the Pine’s forwards off the glass, especially Vanderpool, who had a series of second-chance points that got his side within four (53-49).
Yet that surge seemed inconsequential after Boadu beat Moore for an easy lay-up, and Allman followed up with a big trey and a seemingly decisive transition basket with 4:22 to play.
Gill and Halley Franklyn had 15 points apiece for Pinelands, who forced the finals’ first Game 5 since 2004, while Vanderpool scored 13. Birkett and Allman led LSC with 16 and 12 points respectively.
Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday night at the Barbados Community College.