A fast paced start for the Buckeye Bulls was the fuel needed to drive the third seeded squad to a 1-0 lead over the fifth seeded G.B. Shipyard Cruisers.
The YMCA Commercial League championships got off to a hot, competitive start this past Monday, August 12, at the YMCA Gymnasium. Despite a late rally in the second half by the Cruisers, the Bulls eventually took game one by a final score of 61-53.
Bulls’ guard Franklyn Petion poured in a game-high 20 points with teammate Katano Moss adding 12 points in the winning effort. Tamacio Dames paced the Cruisers with a team-high 17 points and Amado Hepburn chipped in with 12 points of his own.
The Cruisers aim to bounce back in game two of the best of seven series tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Y.
Bulls’ head coach Andrew Williams said game one’s victory came down to defense, ball control and tempo. Looking ahead to game two, he felt that once they continue to focus on those things they’d be in prime position to take a 2-0 series lead.
“It came down to defense, control, pace and rebounding,” Williams offered, “If that worked out well we felt we’d put ourselves in a good position.
“I told the guys, as the Cruisers made that late push, to control the ball. We had all of our ball handlers in late to play patient and limit turnovers.
“As for game two we just need to limit turnovers, play through mistakes and have good defensive energy. We have a lot of depth so playing fast isn’t an issue for us.”
The Bulls wasted no time opening a 15-4 lead midway through the first period. Defense, easy transition baskets and fast break points were the recipe for the Bulls owning a 23-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Later in the contest and halfway through the second period the Bulls maintained a double digit, 25-13 lead over the Cruisers. The fifth seeded Cruisers found an easy lane to the rim to make it a 25-15 game in favor of the Bulls.
Moments later Petion pulled up from the three-point arch and drilled home a three to give the Bulls a 28-15 lead.
The Cruisers eventually made it a 28-19 game with 2:17 left in the period. A pair of free throws brought the Cruisers closer trailing the Bulls, 28-21.
On the Cruisers’ following possession a put-back lay-up made it 28-23 score but a technical foul was assessed to the Cruisers after the make. The subsequent made free throw gave the Bulls a 29-23 lead.
With just under a minute left to go before halftime the Bulls owned a 33-28 lead. After a few empty possessions for both squads the Cruisers ultimately had the last shot with six seconds left. However, the Cruisers turned the ball over and a made lay-up for the Bulls on the other end and made it a 35-28 game at halftime for Buckeye.
A quick 6-0 run to start the third had the Bulls ahead 41-28.
The Cruisers mustered, scoring one free throw before another easy fast break lay-up for the Bulls gave them a 43-29 lead with just under four minutes to play in the third.
Down the stretch the lead was just eight for the Bulls with under two minutes remaining in the third. The score was 44-36 before Petion was fouled while converting on a floater made it a 46-36 edge for the Bulls. The following made free throw pushed their lead up, 48-36.
The Bulls eventually closed the third period leading 50-38.
Both teams entered the fourth quarter with clear intentions: the Bulls seeking to manage the final quarter smartly, and the Cruisers desperately trying to spark a run. With 4:55 left in regulation the Bulls eventually owned a 52-44 lead.
That was until a three-pointer from The Cruisers’ Latrell “Trelly” Poitier inched his team closer, making it a 52-47 in the favor of the Bulls. Deeper into the period a strong drive by Poitier made it a three-point, 52-49 game in favor of the Bulls with 2:10 remaining.
Moments later the Bulls were sent to the line for two free throws, but only converted one to give them a 53-49 lead.
At the 1:50 mark the Bulls’ Tadd Martin was fouled and sent to the line. There, he made good on both attempts to increase their lead, 55-49 where they never looked back.
Game three is set for Friday, August 16, with game four slated for Monday, August 19. Games five, six and seven will take place August 21, 23 and 26 if necessary. Tip-off time is 8:00 p.m. nightly.