The playoffs for senior men’s basketball kicked off on Wednesday evening.
Digicel Court on Eastern Avenue was host to two entertaining playoff games. At 6:30pm number one seeded Wolves battled George Town Sports Club while at 8:00pm number two Shoalin faced number three Blazers.
The teams are part of the ‘Big Four.’ In the ‘Big Four’ playoff set-up, teams play each other in a best of three series.
Coming into the game, the Wolves had the best record in the league at 14-2. They also had the most scored and the fewest points allowed.
Meanwhile, GTSC had to make a late season surge just to make the playoffs. They ended the season at 10-6 and in the middle of the pack in offense. However they did finish third in fewest points allowed.
For GTSC, those defensive efforts would carry into the playoffs. In a highly anticipated rematch of last year’s final, GTSC would make the game sluggish for the Wolves and have them work hard for every basket.
In spite of the lack of players, just six for GTSC versus roughly 15 for Wolves, the defending champs simply played with more heart. From the cries for more team defense and the frequency of extra passes, the side seemed more like an organized unit than their opponents.
On the other hand, they had some morale issues along the way. But their tenacity along the boards as well as their defense quelled those feelings.
By halftime, GTSC led by 12 points as they scored 49 points in the first two periods while the Wolves managed just 37 points.
The second half saw Wolves try to get back in it. Led by 20 points and 11 rebounds from Gary McLaughlin and 21 points and five rebounds from Carson Fagan, they were within shouting distance by the fourth quarter.
But GTSC knew they had the game and were not prepared to let it go. They stepped up their defense and shut down the Wolves for the win. The final score was 84-72 in favour of GTSC.
GTSC was led by solid performances. Jason Campbell was constantly pushing the pace and being active on both ends. He was rewarded with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Team mate Lloyd Samuels was an offensive threat and seemed to take over the game in spurts. He ended up with a game-high 34 points and 12 rebounds.
Meanwhile the Wolves seemed to be in a funk. In spite of McLaughlin and Fagan’s efforts, they struggled to get their offense started and their play on defense was uninspired. To make matters worse, star center and team captain Andres Kirchman appeared to suffer an ankle injury just before half-time.
The second game of the evening was a match-up of elite offenses. Going into the playoffs Shaolin and Blazers were second and third respectively in points scored.
Both squads did not disappoint as they lit up the net. With lots of jump-shooting and fast-break chances, the numbers on the scoreboard increased in a heartbeat.
Once the track meet ended and the nets had time to cool Shaolin emerged victorious over Blazers. The final score was 85-78.
Scoring title runner-up Colin Anglin paced Shaolin with 28 points and five assists. He had plenty of help from twin towers Jerome Narcisse and Phillip Wilson as both contributed 15 points and 9 rebounds.
Meanwhile Blazers countered with 24 points and five steals from Perry Levy. Sharp-shooting guard Morgan Bodden was also a factor as he drained four three pointers to finish with 18 points.
All four teams were in action again last night as they played game two of their series. If necessary, game three will be on Sunday.
Look for full results of those games next week.