Jan 15, 2016 Sports
By Edison Jefford
Eagles pecked apart Pacesetters 95-86 Wednesday night at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in the Georgetown Amateur Basketball Association (GABA) Under-23 best-of-three final to win game one in overtime.
Travis Belgrave, who Pacesetters’, Roger John blocked with about three seconds left to send the game to overtime after a 77-77 deadlock, poured in a game high 29 points for Eagles with Darrol Williams contributing 20 and Kevin Higgins 18 points.
For Pacesetters, Jaleel Duke ended with 25 points while Stephen Peters supported with 16 points. Nathan Saul and Marvin Durant added 13 and 10 points respectively that helped Pacesetters to a 76-71 advantage with just under a minute and half left in the game.
Eagles, however, showed the resolve to haul within one 75-76 with 55 seconds remaining after a crucial 4-0 run. Eagles got the lead with two crunch-time free-throws, but the game still favoured Pacesetters with them down only one with possession.
Duke got the opportunity to win the game from the free-throw line with 13 seconds left but made only one of his two shots to tie the encounter 77-77 apiece, before John came away with his huge defensive play against Belgrave to give Pacesetters life in overtime.
The five minutes of added time totally belonged to Eagles as they flew one flight closer to the U-23 title with an 18-9 offensive advantage that shut out Pacesetters. Eagles gritty defence pressure in the period overwhelmed the tiring Pacesetters unit.
Before the dramatic end, Eagles soared to an early lead as they outscored Pacesetters 23-12 at the end of the first period. Higgins was the chief scorer for Eagles in the period with eight points, but Pacesetters piled on 32 points in the second period to trail Eagles 44-45 in the halftime break that set up the exciting finish.
Eagles led 67-61 at the end of the penultimate quarter before the deadlock ensured the game last longer than expected. Eagles and Pacesetters will meet again tonight for the second of the best-of three final at the same venue.
Meanwhile, Pepsi Sonics reached the GABA Division II final after beating Melanie Patriots 77-51 in that semi-final. Guard, Jason Squires had 21 points as Aubrey Smith, and Kerwin Jackson supported with 14 points apiece for Sonics.
For Patriots, Shaquille Eversley scored 11 points while Ashton Adams contributed 10 points and Orison Amsterdam eight points. Sonics set up a dream final with rivals Republic Bank Nets, one of the teams they are very familiar with, having shared The National Gymnasium practice venue with them for some years.
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