Saturday, April 20, 2024

Cavs three-peat


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The knockout kings just won’t give up their crown. Make that three in a row now for Station Hill after the Cavs scored ten straight fourth-quarter points to seal Thursday’s 65-51 title-winning victory over rivals Lumber Company Lakers in the Co-operators General Insurance Basketball KO final at the Wildey Gym.

It was another of those coming of age moments for the cardiac kids, who put an even bigger spotlight on their league best 8-2 record by winning a third successive knockout championship.

And the triumph proved all the sweeter considering it came against an age-old adversary that Station Hill beat on the same stage last year, and also matched up with in three other KO title games (2005, 2008, 2012) and a trio of league finals (2007, 2008, 2010).

“This one feels even sweeter not because of the opponent but because of the progression of the team as we haven’t had an opportunity to add any Barbadian players in the last three, four years. No one comes to Station Hill,” said head coach Adrian Craigwell.

“So whenever we get these guys going through a system and then delivering it will always be fun for me to watch. I really don’t even know what to say right now. The fellas put in a lot of work and obviously they deserve all the rewards.”

They certainly earned their crown in crunch time after surviving a threatening Lakers rally that cut their double-digit lead to a mere two-score game (55-51) midway through the fourth quarter.

Trailing 53-42 with national forwards John and Kregg Jones in foul trouble, Lakers went on a surprising 9-2 run when Jimal Singh ended the third period with a much-needed three-pointer.

Adrian Allman and Keefe Birkett then started the fourth with fast-break layups to sandwich a Ricardo Jemmott put-back that got them within four.

But they never got any closer, not even when both Jones returned to the floor, as Station Hill scored ten points without reply to end the threat.

Saeed Norville responded with three timely layups, including a nifty left-handed finish over an outstretched defender before Jason Smith sealed the deal with a huge trey (63-51).

Granville Gittens then converted a layup of his own after Lakers just couldn’t get a handle on their needless turnovers.

“We knew they were a bigger team than us but they don’t have the glue with the exit of Mark Bridgeman so there was no-one to connect the ‘bigs’ to the ‘smalls’ and we just had to make sure we did a good job keeping the ‘bigs’ off the boards,” explained Craigwell.

And they did just that for the most part while going toe to toe with Lakers in yet another scrappy rivalry game.

But John Jones was forced to the bench when he picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter before his fellow national teammate followed mere seconds later.

Station Hill immediately took advantage too, scoring 13 of the game’s next 15 points to turn what was once a 40-all deadlock into a comfortable 53-42 advantage.

It was just a part of Darren Hunte’ third-quarter explosion, which saw the Cavs swingman erupt for 11 points in the period including seven in that 10-0 run highlighted by the step-through jumper which sent John Jones to the bench.

This was after Lakers jumped out to a similar double-digit lead, as Keefe Birkett shook off his early-season shooting woes to put his side up 22-10.

With Station Hill crowding the paint, the national shooting guard knocked down a pair of wide open treys and another pull-up jumper to work in tandem with John Jones.

However, Lakers got sloppy with the ball, particularly in the paint, and Station Hill transformed those ensuing turnovers into layups for Norville and Gittens.

Smith then chimed in with three long jump-shots including a big triple right before the half-time break that cut Lakers’ lead to just one (31-30).

Hunte finished with 15 points, Smith scored 12 and Gittens added 11 while Birkett led Lakers with 22 points. (JM)


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