Friday, March 1, 2024

Challengers take intermediate title


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The wait is over. Challengers are finally taking their talents to the top flight.
Two decades of destitution are gone following the season of destiny, as Alwyn Lovell had a game-high 19 points, including a crucial “and-one” play in the decisive 14-5 second-quarter run to hand Challengers basketball’s Intermediate title via Monday’s 64-49 win over Garrison Plus Chargers at the YMCA.
The pivotal Game 3 victory secured the club’s long-awaited promotion to Premier League after 23 long years of hardship – the last eight of which Challengers spent battling in Intermediate.
But from the start, this season always had a different feel from the others, with the Culloden Road side going “all in” with the acquisition of Senators’ former star swingman.
However, it was the club’s old faithful that came up big when it mattered most, as Antonio Yearwood got two layups and a pair of free throws to sandwich a Neil Patrick jumper as the start of a 14-5 surge that turned a nine-point halftime cushion into a 47-29 rout.
Lovell eventually capped the run with the “hoop and the harm” off a driving layup before Patrick added a layup of his own following a neat backdoor cut.
Garrison didn’t do much by way of trying to end the surge either, having watched Ryan Lucas force several ill-advised and heavily-contested shots as the result of the forward starting his post moves too far from the paint to leave him in bad positions to score.
All the while, former Premier League big man Tyrone “Tito” Alexander went long stretches without even touching the ball as Garrison managed just nine third-quarter points.
And this came directly on the heels of a similarly futile second-quarter performance, where the wheels fell right off the Chargers bus when the play got decisively “chippy” between the two sides following a pair of missed calls.
Tied at 18 early in the second, the referees failed to call a foul while Lucas was tripped up at half court, before there was a similar “no-call” on Lucas’ ensuing reaction of blatantly taking a jump-shooting Lovell out of the air with his forearm.
Lovell, though, wouldn’t be goaded into a physical confrontation though, instead choosing to respond with an even bigger blow – scoring five points of a 15-6 rally that opened up a telling 33-24 lead.
After trailing by as many as 18 points, Garrison did attempt to make a game of it in the fourth, with Shawn Grovesnor sinking a pair of free throws before adding a knifing drive and an assist to Alexander to cut the deficit to 11 (53-42) with 6:20 remaining.
But Roger Deane immediately responded with a traditional three-point play, and Lovell duly put away the contest with successive layups prior to Antonio Yearwood’s backbreaking pull-up jumper.
Yearwood finished with 12 points and Patrick added a further ten while Alexander was the lone Garrison player in double digits with 19 points.

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