And then there were two!
The YMCA Commercial League championships are all set for tonight, August 12, between the Buckeye Bulls and G.B. Shipyard Cruisers. Game one tips off at 7:30 p.m. at the YMCA Gymnasium.
The championship series, a best of seven affair, will be in honor of former long-time coach, the late Bobby "Bingo" Rose.
It's been a long, winding road for both teams as their trek through the regular season and post-season has led them to this juncture. While the Bulls happened to sweep their semifinals opponents in the Polymers Reactors 2-0 in a best of three series, the Cruisers went a full three-game series with Showtime to advance to tonight's championship game. The Cruisers took that series over Showtime 2-1.
The semifinal round commenced back on August 2 as the final four teams' determination shone brightly on the Y's gymnasium floor.
The Bulls picked up a full head of steam in game one of their series against the Reactors. Controlling the tempo from start to finish the Bulls rolled to a 75-53 victory to take a 1-0 series lead. Franklyn Petion dropped 23 points in leading the Bulls to victory. Clemente "Baby D" Martin added 17 points.
The Reactors' Jay Philipe and Chosen Levarity finished with 17 and 15 points respectively.
The Reactors came out determined to force a game three back on August 7 when game two got underway, but the Bulls proved to be too much to handle. Buckeye put the finishing touches on that series with a 69-53 victory, completing the sweep.
This time, it was Cedric Delancey Jr. leading the Bulls with 18 points in the win, with Petion providing back-up and pouring in 17 points. Martin also chipped in with a 17-point outing. Philippe finished with just 12 points in the loss, while Boman Mullings added 11 points.
The Bulls appear to be locked, loaded and focused headed into the championship. Bulls head coach Andrew Williams detailed briefly what made the Bulls a force to be reckoned with all season. Highlighting having a healthy mix of youth and experience, he credited that balance to the team's success during this season.
"We’re really versatile and have a great mix of vets and youth," Williams shared, "So we think we’re equipped for a short or long series.
"We’re familiar with everyone on their team (Cruisers) and we like a lot of our matchups. They have some good talent on their side but 1-10 we're stacked."
By Williams' account, despite the Reactors making the Bulls make adjustments as the series went along, they were still able to run away and dominate in the end. With a game plan in place for a similarly talented Cruisers team awaiting them, coach Williams is excited for the first jump ball of the series to be tossed up tonight.
"The series prior, Polymers gave us a lot of problems but we won that series pretty handily winning both games by 15 points or more every game. I'm hoping that carries over to the next series.
"We’re concentrating on defensive and offensive rebounding. We have to control second chance points. The Cruisers did a good job of controlling the tempo and closing quarters during their last series. If we can control those things we’ll put ourselves in a good position."
The Cruisers took a 1-0 series lead over Showtime back on August 2. They ran away with that contest by a final score of 66-52. Amado Hepburn led the Cruisers' scoring effort with 16 points, while Edriel Martinborough provided 15 points in the win. Trevor Bain, though, erupted for a game-high 23 points in the Showtime loss.
Showtime bounced back that August 7 with a 77-71 win over the Cruisers to tie the series at 1-1. Bain provided his second 20-point performance of the series scoring 22 points in the win. Wildgoose added 14 points in the game two victory.
Tamacio Dames provided 16 points to lead the Cruisers' scoring effort. Martinborough finished with 16 points as well.
The third and decisive game was decided on August 9 as the Cruisers ran away with a 77-69 win. Martinborough supplied 26 points in the series clinching effort with Latrell "Trelly" Poitier adding 19 points in the win.
Bain and Wildgoose finished with 13 points each in the elimination loss.
YMCA Executive Director Karon Pinder-Johnson felt there was an even level of parity during the 2019 season. Thankful for the corporate support of the league, Pinder-Johnson noted that the league was created to provide an outlet for the employees of the various companies.
"This year's commercial league was extremely competitive. To me, it appeared to be evenly stacked talent wise and I think every basketball game was a great anticipation because nobody knew who was going to win.
"As we go into our championship segment I'm sure there are going to be many fans just sitting on the edge of their bench waiting to see who is going to win this year's championship. When you have the likes of Cedric and Baby D for the Bulls on one side and you have Martinborough, Trelly, and "Big Smooth" (Ervin Lewis) for the Cruisers on the opposite end, anything can happen," she shared.