Warriors, Cavs take Game 1s
Put a hold on that Lakers-Pinelands rematch. Last year’s finalists are in a fight just to get back there.
Hilton Barbados Warriors and Station Hill Cavaliers are coming to break up the party, having moved a game away from contesting the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League basketball finals via Monday’s Game 1 wins at the Wildey Gym.
Led by Jamar “Spanner” Headley and Justin Pile, Warriors literally ran all over KFC Orange 3 Pinelands in an 88-79 victory before Station Hill held off defending champs Lumber Company Lakers 64-55.
It was their fourth straight win over the rival Lakers, who have yet to beat the Cavs this year following a pair of regular season defeats and a loss in April’s knockout title game.
And Station Hill looked certain of keeping that perfect record intact after jumping out to an 11-point first-quarter lead (20-9) before going up 53-43 with seven minutes left.
Yet Lakers rallied to make it a one-possession game mere moments later, as professional player John Jones answered with two sweeping drives to the middle that sandwiched a rare Keefe Birkett jumper (53-50).
But they never got any closer the rest of the way once Stephan Ottley ended the 7-0 run with the timeliest of three-pointers.
Joel Hunte then followed soon after with a dunk in the open floor to restore Station Hill’s significant advantage.
Lakers briefly threatened again when Mark Bridgeman converted two free throws but the national forward missed a chance to make further inroads by blowing a wide open layup.
Granville Gittens then immediately made him pay with a short jumper as Jamai Puckerin sealed the deal with a timely tap-in inside the final minute.
It capped a tremendous performance at the other end, where the Cavs managed to keep their opponents to just nine points in the opening ten minutes of their latest rivalry game.
But Lakers repaid the favour, holding Station Hill to only four field goals in the second quarter as part of a 18-9 rally that saw them get within two (29-27) at the half.
Lakers actually had their first lead of the contest (35-34) early in the ensuing third quarter following Bridgeman’s spin move and subsequent triple.
However, Hunte went one better, hitting two treys of his own to bookend a pair of inside baskets from Gittens and Puckerin (48-43).
That lead then ballooned to double digits after Lakers opened the fourth by missing four straight free throws.
Gittens finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks and Hunte added 16 points while Jones led Lakers with 12 points.
Earlier, Headley and Pile both had 20-point outings in a game that Warriors led by as many as 18 (38-20) after scoring eight of their first nine baskets on layups.
National forwards Charles Vanderpool and Junior Moore just couldn’t contain Headley on straight line drives while the rest of the Pine struggled to keep up in transition.
Pinelands subsequently got within ten (41-31) after Ramon Simmons scored on a step-back triple and fast-break layup before Kevin John restored Warriors’ lead with successive jumpers.
The Pine did threaten again later, reducing the deficit to just seven (68-61) at one stage in the fourth following two baskets from Derion Hurley and an Ian Alexander runner.
But Pile drilled a huge trey immediately after and centre Nicholai Williams followed suit with two quick baskets out of the post.
Ricardo “Aru” Toussaint then got in on the act with a jumper and layup that gave Warriors a 79-64 cushion.
Simmons and Zahir Motara briefly made things interesting again with back-to-back three-point bombs (79-71), but Headley promptly converted a tough “and-one” finish at the other end off of Kareem “Figs” Farrell’s assist.
Williams added a layup of his own thereafter before Gill hit a couple meaningless three-pointers for the final margin.
Headley finished with 22 points, Pile added 20 and Williams scored 14, while Gill led Pinelands with 17 points.
Both Game 2s are scheduled for tomorrow night at the Barbados Community College. (JM)