Friday, March 1, 2024

Game 1 to Challengers


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BASKETBALL’S TOP FLIGHT is now but a game away for Challengers.
Combo guard Antonio Yearwood scored all but five of his 13 points in the fourth quarter while Plus Garrison Chargers were held to just eight points over that same span as Challengers took Game 1 of the Intermediate finals via Wednesday’s 65-55 victory at the YMCA.
The result put the Culloden Road side within striking distance of a debut Premier League appearance, as another win in the best-of-three series would secure their promotion to the first division for next season.
But their hold on the finals – and a Premier League spot – was tenuous at best for the duration of an ugly see-saw contest that neither side led by more than six points for all but the final three minutes.
And ironically enough, Chargers seemed like they had the momentum heading down the stretch, as Tito Alexander scored on two post-up opportunities to sandwich a Ron Grant layup that cut a threatening Challengers lead to just three points (56-53).
However, Garrison added a mere basket to their tally over the final 2:44 after Alwyn Lovell abruptly ended the rally with a timely “and-one” score and a subsequent long jumper to reopen a six-point cushion.
Challengers then got a further reprieve when Alexander inexplicably subbed himself out of the game in the midst of Lovell’s surge, before Yearwood capped his side’s 9-2 finish to the contest with four straight points on a jumper and transition layup.
It was the second such second half surge from Challengers, who threatened to blow open the game on the back of some unlikely scoring from forward Roger “Rakey” Dean.
With both teams wrestling for control of the third quarter, Dean hit a turnaround jumper from the post to start an improbable run of six unanswered points from the oft-overlooked forward that put Challengers ahead 52-46 near the end of the period.
This was after Junior Clarke hit successive jumpers early in the first quarter to give Garrison a quick 11-6 lead and counteract Adrian Fowler’s initial drives.
But Lovell leaked out for easy scores in the open court as part of Challengers’ ensuing 8-0 response, until Chargers finally profited from the size advantage both Alexander and Ryan Lucas had down low.
Garrison inexplicably went away from the post, though, settling for long jumpers and ineffective dribble drives while failing to keep Lovell and Neil Patrick off the offensive glass.
Lovell led all scorers with 17 points and Fowler added ten for Challengers, who will be looking to close out the series tomorrow night at the Barbados Community College. Alexander scored 12 points and Nicholas King had ten.


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