Playoffs: Round 2 Recap

By: Aaron Williams

Game 1: #4 COA (81) v. #1 Redemption (84)

COA came out strong against the top team in the Stanley Dill Division, winning the first quarter by 11 points behind hot shooting from Jordan Crawford, and bad transition defense at the buzzer from Redemption, as Kerry Carter was caught trotting back after sinking a pull up 2. In the second quarter, Carter took a bad hit to the leg on an illegal screen from Craig Smith that left him hobbled for the remainder of the period, while Jonathan Gibson picked up his third foul guarding Brandon Jennings – bad news for a team that needed every minute from their all-star guard duo to keep the game inside of single digits. Without them, COA ran to a 10 point lead by halftime, led by Jennings, who hit a variety of tough fall-away jumpers and 4 free throws – courtesy of hotheaded Chuck Garcia and his ill-timed technical foul. Gibson knotted the game at 58 late in the third quarter, hitting a big three over Austin Mills down the stretch – a result of Redemption finally, collectively digging in on defense. Suddenly, Redemption was ahead 10 points after Crawford picked up a tech of his own and Tom Granado and Garcia hit a pair of wide open threes up top to end the quarter. COA stormed back in the final frame, but Redemption was dialed in. A clutch layup from Gibson and a HUGE block on Ojo by Garcia had Redemption up 3 with 2 seconds left in the game. Garcia further embarrassed Ojo with a steal out of the timeout and Redemption hung on to get to the semi-finals for the first time in Keion Kindred’s Drew coaching career. Redemption’s player of the game was Jonathan Gibson, with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists, while MVP candidate Kerry Carter contributed 24 points of his own. Redemption will play winner of Juglife Scrapes Saturday at 2:30pm.

Game 2: #6 Salvatori’s Spirit (101) v. #2 LAUNFD (92)

The Unification had this one well in hand early, but if anyone expecting a blowout, the first quarter made them extremely nervous. James Harden was basically the only member of LAUNFD to score in their 24 point first quarter, with 17 points all by himself, whereas Spirit got balanced contributions from both Dede Prejean and Leo Lyons on their way to 18. The lead ballooned in the second as James’ outscored Spirit’s game total by himself by the midway point of the quarter – by halftime Spirit was looking up at LAUNFD from a 16-point deficit that they seemed unlikely to overcome, 54-38. Spirit’s players looked utterly washed through most of the third, giving up on multiple defensive possessions as they struggled to come back – or at least keep the score respectable. Three consecutive turnovers committed by LAUNFD late in the quarter were more of a result of their own mistakes than Spirit’s D, but the “underdog” Spirit were able to go on a 7-0 run that took them into the money quarter down just 7 points. With their thin bench though, they were just too tired to complete the comeback in the fourth. James Harden and Bobby Brown continued to rain a torrential downpour of threes on them, and they just didn’t have the gas to stay with it. They walked the ball up, they missed shots short, and picked up a double technical when Roderick Wilmack got into it with Harden on an inbounds play late in the game. All told, they let multiple opportunities slip away – but hey, moral victory: they “only” lost by single digits, 101-92. Player of the Game for LAUNFD couldn’t be anyone other than James Harden; the Beard dropped in 43 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. LAUNFD will play BB4L Saturday 1pm for the Division title.

Game 3: #1 Basketball for Life (71) v. #4 Birdie’s Revenge (64)

It took Birdie’s Revenge 3 minutes to score in the opening quarter of this one, but they pressed their inside advantage to come back and tie the game by the end of the first, with Jarion Henry and Marcus Bell rebounding everything their shooters couldn’t hit. Birdie’s Revenge started to run away in the second quarter, but Stanley Johnson went full on Weapon X to keep it knotted in the back end of the quarter. It was The Game (of all people) who hit the go-ahead bucket after kissing the ball goodbye, tossing in a three from the corner to put Birdie’s up 35-32 at halftime. The game came loose at the seams during the third quarter with both teams playing at the most frantic pace we’ve seen all season. Coach D.H. made substitutions fast and furiously, with Tim Johnson, Baron Davis, and the Wares cycling in and out of the lineup to fight their way back to within just 1 point to end the period. Terrence Ross and Stanley came into the final quarter to do what they do best, starting a long-range bombardment that ended with a 9-point lead and a Birdie’s Revenge timeout with 3:37 left on the clock. B.R. began to over-rely on 3-point attempts, bringing Henry back to right the ship, but it was (to coin the cliché) too little, too late. Weapon X nailed a corner dagger to put BB4L up by 11 with just over a minute left, and Birdie’s Revenge never recovered as BB4L advanced, 71-64, to face LAUNFD in the Division Final at 1. Stanley Johnson was their player of the game, with 26 points and 8 rebounds.

Game 4: #6 #Juglife (91) v. #7 Scrapes & Gravel (80)

The final game of the second round started with a splash; Swaggy P knocked down his first jumper from long range, but it wasn’t long before King Tut hit right back with one of his own. But it was their back court partners who did all the flossing in the first quarter; Mike “Chopper City” Taylor and Sek “Viper” Henry funked and flourished their way to a 28-27 highlight reel, with Scrapes coming out just barely ahead in the quarter. The second quarter was as vice-tight as the first. Both teams played about as pure basketball as you could ever hope to see, spearheaded by Scrapes’ super-talented high school prospect De’Anthony Melton. The young point guard played as well as we’ve ever seen, but Scrapes’ made just enough defensive mistakes to give Juglife the lead, 42-38, at halftime. Dorell Wright blew up the internet in the third with a massive dunk on Javale McGee (who’s really had a terrible past couple of weeks for a big man), but Scrapes struggled to get a stop, allowing the Jugs to get up on them by 8. Young got a piece of revenge at the start of the fourth with his own one-hand jam, but fouled Mike Taylor on the next trip down the floor. S&G started to fall in love with their jump shots a bit too much, and allowed Juglife to run off a 9-point lead – but what can you do when Javale gets the ball on the block? With 1:05 left in the quarter, Scrapes trailed by 7 and couldn’t buy a bucket right when they needed it most. Juglife took the win, 91-80, and will take on Redemption at 2:30 on Saturday. Their player of the game honors went to Javale McGee, with 27 points, and 13 rebounds, but a nod goes to Viper for tying McGee’s score, with 5 rebounds and 5 assists of his own.

Aaron Paul Williams is a freelance writer and has written for DrewLeague.com and Clipperblog. He is also the creator of Compton Beach, a lifestyle brand and media company that seeks to change the way the world views South Los Angeles and benefit the communities he and so many others reside in, work in, and love. Catch him on Twitter: @aaronsmarter.

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