MoBay Boys’ Club Warriors and Falmouth Saints hold vital 1-0 leads in their best-of-three semi-final series of the Western Basketball Association (WBA) Elite League, following contrasting victories on Saturday, July 13, at the Montego Bay Cricket Club.
Warriors rallied in spectacular fashion to pip MoBay Cricket Club Knights by the narrowest of margins, 73-72, while Saints were in destructive form, brushing aside the former many times champions Granville Jaguars, 84-60.
Knights entered the contest as slight favourites and started well, quickly establishing a five-point advantage after the close of the first quarter, 22-17.
Knights then fell asleep somewhat in the second quarter, allowing a spirited Warriors back into the game as they cut the lead to a mere four going into the end of the first half.
Warriors carried the momentum into the start of the third quarter, chipping further into the Knights’ lead, trimming their advantage to a single point going into the start of the fourth and final quarter.
Though missing several wide open looks at the basket and six straight free throws, Warriors managed to keep pace with their more fancied opponents late in the quarter, with Tafari Vassell making a big play, a decisive lay-up on a fast break by Le’var Rose.
Warriors leveled the scores at 70-70 late in the quarter, before going on to snatch the win after youg Anthony Thorpe connected on two free throws.
Antonio Spence, with 23points and 10 rebounds, led the way for the Knights, while Jhuan Bryan added 14 and hauled down 11 rebounds.
For the Warriors, Tafari Vassell and Rose had 29 and 19 points respectively, with Vassell also grabbing 14 rebounds and effecting 5 steals.
In the feature match-up of the evening, not much was expected from the weakened Jaguars team without Dave Black and David Gordon.
That expectation lived up to as Saints were emphatic from the first attack, hammering home a dunk on the very first attack of the basket.
Jaguars, visibly lacking in fire power and a presence down low, struggled throughout as Saints, lethal in attack and stifling in defense, kept them at bay in the at times lopsided match-up which had the eventual winners ahead 49-37 at the halftime break.
Jaguars trailed by as many as 15 with only three players, veterans, managing to get into double figures.
Leroy Lawrence, who has played sparingly this season and who holds the League’s record for most double-doubles, was the go-to man for the Jaguars as he ended with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and was supported by Cleon Morgan, 19, and Ryan Harrison, 11 and 6 rebounds.
Six of Harrison’s points came in the first quarter alone as Jaguars made an early attempt to make a contest of the encounter.
For the winners, Alex Levy had 24 points and Earldom Smith added 20 and grabbed 7 rebounds.
Three other players also got into double digit scoring, Aldane Anderson, Ricardo Brooks and Nicholai Brown with 14, 12 and 10 respectively.
Brooks also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished 6 assists.