Saturday, April 13, 2024

Pine lads win season opener


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by JUSTIN MARVILLEPINELANDS couldn’t have asked for a better opponent to start the post Kirk Patrick era. The final margin didn’t necessarily suggest it though.
Ramon Simmons scored 18 of his game-high 23 points as part of an 18-point first-half lead before surviving a menacing fourth-quarter rally to down perennial cellar dwellers Cougars 60-49 in Tuesday’s basketball Premier League opener at the Wildey Gym.   
It was the first game Pinelands played since their slain national player was fatally shot close to home during the off season nine months ago.   
And the end result was perfect – even if the play was far from – to open a season that Pinelands iare currently playing in his honour. 
They never even trailed in this one either, not after scoring 11 of the game’s first 13 points during an initial 17-7 run and 26-13 first quarter advantage fuelled by Simmons’ exploits in transition.
The national swingman made good in his first five field baskets, perfectly filling the lane in the open floor on the way to an 11-point first quarter as Pinelands looked like an offensive juggernaut while forcing the issue off each defensive rebound.
That 13-point first quarter advantage would become a 39-21 lead by the break following another outburst from Simmons, who closed the half with two more lay-ups sandwiching a Kurt Elias hook.
But starting point guard Steve Sealy picked up his fourth foul moments later while backcourt mate Selwyn Brooks lost all confidence, resulting in Pinelands managing nine points in the third against a surging Seon Hilliman.
Cougars actually got within five (50-45) midway through the fourth, having cut a 48-35 deficit when Godfrey Leacock scored five quick points to spur a threatening 10-2 run.
Pinelands even went scoreless for five minutes of the rally, missing seven straight shots at one point before Simmons finally ended the threat with a free throw and a back-breaking triple .National forward Charles Vanderpool assisted Simmons with 11 points while Leacock was the lone Cougars player in double digits with 16. 
In the night’s second game, shooting guard Adrian Allman led all scorers with 16 points, including eight during a decisive third-quarter run, piloting last year’s losing finalists Lumber Company Lakers to a 72-57 victory over Colombian Emeralds International Senators in their  opener.
Ricardo Jemmott, Keefe Birkett and Ian Alexander all added ten apiece as the former champs initially blew open the game by scoring ten unanswered points in a 21-7 second quarter surge. 
However, Senators made a brief game of it early in the third, reducing a 34-19 hole to just nine points (34-25) following a quick flurry from point guard  Daniel Clement.  
It was as close as they would get the rest of the way though, as Allman countered in transition when Lakers’ defence forced four straight turnovers as part of a 13-1 run that put the Husbands men ahead by 21 (47-26).
Clement finished with 11 and Alwyn Lovell had a team-best 13 points for Senators, who haven’t beaten Lakers at this level since 2002.


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