Lakers lose 3rd straight
Now everyone is treating the champs like chumps. Lumber Company Lakers are really struggling, having dropped their latest contest via Thursday’s 75-57 blowout loss to rivals Station Hill Cavaliers in the Co-operators General Insurance Basketball Premier League at the Wildey Gym.
It was the third loss in as many games for the reeling defending champs, who went from being the league leaders to lying just a game ahead of Warrens for the fourth and final play-off spot.
But the defeats haven’t been as disturbing as the manner in which they’ve come, considering the typically high-powered Lakers have now failed to crack 70 points in successive 18-point routs.
And Keefe Birkett has been at the centre of those woes in a season where the reigning league MVP has shot an uncharacteristically dreadful 26 per cent from deep and 35 overall from the floor.
Fellow national starters Mark Bridgeman and John Jones didn’t fare well early on either after routinely coughing up the ball in Station Hill’s hot 32-16 start to the game.
It was a stifling defensive performance from the athletic and rangy Cavs, who chased shooters off the spot, jammed every pick-and-roll and still managed to recover in the key to snuff out driving lanes.
Those collective efforts led to a myriad of layups at the other end, as Station Hill seemingly turned every turnover into a fast-break basket.
Yet they proved nearly as devastating in half court after getting big jump shots from Jamai Puckering, Corey Howard, Kevin Sealy and Stephan Ottley.
Birkett tried to stem the tide at one point in the first half, hitting a free throw before putting his head down and attacking the rack on successive drives (21-32).
But Lakers did themselves no favours by continually missing free throws that allowed Station Hill to hold a 38-23 half-time cushion.
And they never got any closer after the break as the Cavs continued to feast off Lakers’ live ball turnovers.
Sealy hit another jumper before getting out in transition for two layups that sandwiched a huge Jason Smith triple (54-32) and stretched Station Hill’s lead past 20.
Darren Hunte then hit a triple to start the fourth quarter and Granville Gittens got in on the act to put the contest to bed.
Sealy led the league-leading Cavs (8-2) with 16 points and Gittens added 11 while Jones and Birkett had 19 and 14 points, respectively, for Lakers (7-4).
Earlier, Kelan Phillips and Halley Franklyn scored 16 points apiece to lead all five starters in doubles as Burger King Clapham Bulls completed their season sweep of St John’s Sonics with an 81-71 victory.
Sean Parris added 14 points and 14 rebounds, Shaquan Carrington scored 12 points and Rahiim Gibbons added 11 points for Clapham (3-7).
Romaine Lovell led Sonics (2-9) with 18 points and 12 rebounds and Kenny Matthew had 18 points and 11 boards. (JM)