Birkett ‘AWOL’ in blowout
The champs are reeling now. Not unlike their star shooting guard.
Keefe Birkett continues to struggle, having shot just two for 18 as Lumber Company Lakers suffered a 86-68 blowout loss to KFC Orange 3 Pinelands in Sunday’s Co-operators General Insurance Basketball Premier League at the Barbados Community College.
It was the new low point of his very uncharacteristic shooting woes this season, in which the reigning league MVP has hit just 27 per cent of his shots from deep and 34 overall from the floor.
And Birkett couldn’t have picked a more inopportune time to have his worst game of the year, considering the champs were without national forward Mark Bridgeman and Ricardo Jemmott and fielded just six men for the finals rematch.
Worse yet, Pinelands were finally at full strength for the first time all season after welcoming back national captain Jeremy Gill from injury.
But he wasn’t even needed, as The Pine jumped out to a fast and furious 28-16 lead long before Gill checked into the contest to start the second quarter.
Charles Vanderpool scored at will on John Jones and Ian Alexander got out in transition before Junior Moore knocked down successive jumpers to end the first period.
Lakers actually took advantage of Gill’s presence on the floor, though, rallying to get within six points (32-26) via a 10-4 run keyed by long jump shots from Birkett, Jimal Singh and Adrian Allman.
Singh returned to hit another trey while Andre Boadu and Ormond Haynes scored out of the post to keep Lakers within striking distance at the break (42-36).
They even got as close as five (55-50) on the other side of half-time after Jones scored ten Lakers points in one stretch on two dunks, a deep post up, one short jumper and a nice “and-one” spin between two defenders.
However, Pinelands put an end to the rally, going on a huge 29-12 run spanning the third and fourth quarters that effectively snuffed out Lakers’ hopes.
Simmons and Derion Hurley hit two triples in quick succession as part of an 11-4 run to end the third before The Pine simply ran over their rivals to close out the contest.
Gill got in on the act with a fast-break layup, two free throws and a pull-up jumper, while Zahir Motara followed with a quick runner.
Simmons pushed the lead past 20 on another three-pointer and Hurley got loose for an uncontested slam before Motara sealed the deal with a nifty no-look assist to Moore underneath (84-62).
Hurley led Pinelands (6-3) with 18 points, Vanderpool finished with 14, while Moore, Motara, Alexander and Simmons each scored 11.
Jones had 21 points and nine rebounds for Lakers (7-3), and Boadu and Allman each scored 12 while Birkett ended with just nine points and seven turnovers.
Earlier, Jamar “Spanner” Headley had 30 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists to lead Hilton Barbados Warriors to their fourth straight win, a 105-78 rout of Combined Schools Tridents.
Justin Pile also scored 30 points for Warriors (7-3), who got an additional 18 points from Ricardo Toussaint.
Rasheed Maynard led Tridents (2-7) with 26 points.
Dwayne Kellman led five players in double digits with 13 points and 14 rebounds, as Station Hill Cavaliers (7-2) held off St John’s Sonics 73-63.
In the other game, Pan American International Warrens (5-5) downed Burger King Clapham Bulls (2-7) 78-60. (JM)