-Plaisance reaches first Final Four
By Edison Jefford
First it was Albouystown/Charlestown, then it was North Ruimveldt, and now it’s the super-strong Wortmanville/Werk-En-Rust that has exited the 2012 National Community Basketball League (NCBL) after a heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals Sunday night.
Albouystown, North Ruimveldt and Wortmanville have all been to the semi-final and final of the Inter-Ward tournament, which has been rebranded NCBL, before. However, the emergence of some formerly weaker teams this year has booted the usual favourites.
Sunday night, in another keenly contested and entertaining quarterfinal, the Western Union-sponsored Plaisance/Vryheid’s Lust sent Wortmanville packing with a 77-67 win, at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
Veteran guard, Enoch Mathews was at his best, scoring 18 points while shooting guard, Steffon Gillis scored 17 points, Ron Campbell 13 points and Nikkoloi Smith 10 points for Plaisance, who like Diamond/McDoom, reached their first Final Four.
Naylon Loncke scored 14 points and Jermaine Hamilton eight points to lead Wortmanville in their first loss of the competition. Wismar, Diamond and Plaisance are the three teams that have so far qualified for the Final Four. The other quarterfinal game will be played Thursday night in Linden between Central McKenzie and Kwakwani.
Loncke started the game hot, landing three-point jumpers for Wortmanville, which ignited his team’s offence early in the game. Plaisance, however, maintained their composure against the early blitz and went down 12-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Wortmanville went ‘small’ at the start of the second period with guard, Aubrey Austin, Delon Davidson and Randy Burgess deputising for the senior nationals, Loncke, Royston Siland and Clement Brusche.
Maybe the tactic was to respond to the pace of Plaisance/Vryheid’s Lust, but that backfired with the Wortmanville bench failing to produce the necessary results on both ends. Wortmanville got only two points from their bench within five minutes of the period.
Siland and Brusche returned to the game and immediately impacted the defensive boards, which led to offensive outlets. Loncke and Burgess made the conversions, and Wortmanville got going again with a 26-19 lead with two minutes left before halftime.
Wortmanville continued to dominate Plaisance in the first half on both ends. They closed the half leading 33-26. But the loud supporters of Plaisance, who never stopped cheering for them, seemed to be the appropriate Sixth Man for the young team.
Mathews worked the ball inside for consecutive layups to complete a six-point run. The scores looked the same and the game got extremely defensive. Smith released a floater high off the glass that kept Plaisance competitive in the must-win game.
However, Loncke responded with four unanswered points and returned the momentum to his team. Plaisance’s coach, Andrew Hercules went to his most dependable players, Campbell, Gillis, Smith, Hugh Arthur and Ryan Gullen to combat Wortmanville.
Campbell finished a fast-break layup to cease a 42-40 lead for Plaisance then Gillis drilled a big three-point jumper to extend advantage. Gillis continued his offensive assault with another shot from just inside the arc. In three minutes, Plaisance was coasting with a 51-44 third quarter lead.
Plaisance did not let up in the final quarter, Campbell and Smith continued the surge, but the seniority and skill of Loncke was still a threat. Loncke consistently forced his way into the paint, finished tough shots and drilled a three-pointer to haul Wortmanville back in the game.
But Gillis answered with a missile from downtown, pulling up for the shot between two defenders at the top of the key to bang it off the glass. The supporters from Plaisance got louder as their team ceased the offensive initiative in crunch-time.
Plaisance opted to use the clock excellently, forcing Wortmanville into foul trouble. Smith and Mathews wrapped up the win for Plaisance with consecutive drives in the paint, ensuring that it is Plaisance, who will play Wismar in the first semi-final Saturday night.
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