The streak is officially over. Birdie’s Revenge tied Problems for the longest win (26) streak in Drew League history last week, but unfortunately for them, LAUNFD brought some big guns to their matchup Sunday, in the form of James Harden, PJ Tucker, Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown, who overwhelmed Birdie’s with their size and sharpshooting. However, many in the gym noted that a new narrative was already forming—in order to beat Birdie’s Revenge, LAU needed to bring in as many hired guns as they could and still only wound up winning by 10. “All this for little old us?” taunted Franklin Session before the game. “We ain’t nobody.”
Of course, now the real work begins. The season finale finally rooted out the chaff from the ballers with the best chance to win, and pending one last play-in game, should solidify playoff seeding for the best eight teams from each division.
In the Christopher Baxter division, BB4L outgunned and outsized Problems, who couldn’t find an answer for BB4L’s Charles Jackson now that their biggest player, Darnell Martin, jumped ship—and to BB4L, no less. Meanwhile, 2017 Most Inspirational Player Van Girard seized the scoring gap left by Casper Ware and Keith Shamburger’s absences and poured in 23 points on top of his nine rebounds and three assists to earn Top Performer honors and the win for BB4L’s No. 1 seed.
Later, Nation Wide Souljas edged out a highly motivated MHP to steal the No. 3 seed and relegate the Most Hated Players to fourth place. MHP very nearly shocked Nation Wide by doing something we’ve very rarely seen them do: play defense. Shannin Sharpe ended the game with 34 points, while DJ Shelton became Player of the Game with a double-double of 23 and 10. Sharpshooter Rolo Nuñez couldn’t get going from three, only making two of his distance shots. It wasn’t enough to outscore the Souljas, who put up their highest total of the season despite being shorthanded as Chris Allen’s 21 and Aaron Harrison’s 25 led a balanced, inspired scoring effort. Both teams will be scary in the playoffs, especially Nation Wide, should Big Baby Glen Davis put in an appearance to bolster his team’s shooting with his interior presence.
On the Jonathan Baxter side, Young Legends turned in a certified performance as their veteran guards showed that flashy numbers and big names don’t always equate to wins at The Drew. With five players in double digits and gritty, physical defensive effort, the Legends reminded Hometown Favorites—and the spectators in the crowd—exactly why they turned out to be one of the top-tier teams in the league despite fielding a relatively new group.
Their chemistry is unmatched, as their scrappy vets shared the ball and demonstrated high basketball IQ throughout the season. It all came together Sunday against Hometown as Eric Williams and Keith Smith’s 18-point games were matched, but not overshadowed by a perfect game from Dejon Prejean, who scored 23 points on 100% shooting. That’s right, 100 percent; nine shots, four from 3-point range, all went through the net in a performance so smooth it almost went unnoticed until the eye-popping stat line forced a few double takes. It’s no wonder they call him “De De Smoove.”
Hometown didn’t slouch at all though—returning guard DeAnthony Melton had himself a field day alongside Kevin Porter Jr. as they scored 21 and 19, respectively, but unfortunately, with their 11th different lineup of the season, the Favorites just couldn’t seem to get going collectively, as Delon Wright only scored 10 and Brandon Brown barely saw the floor. The rotating door they’ve had on their roster has hurt them all season, and they can only hope that they’ll take some lessons into their first-round rematch with Young Legends.
The remaining teams (Hank’s Panthers, Redemption, No Shnacks, Reapers and LAUNFD) had already played their way into playoff position, so the matchup between No Shnacks and Reapers felt a little like a tune-up game. Judging from their performances, Reapers are humming along.
No Shnacks was missing too many key players to take away any real observations, but giving Eli Harkless and Rene Rougeau some burn will definitely help with scoring once centerpieces Larry Gordon, Marvelle Harris and Sean Marshall return.
Meanwhile, Black Pearls Elite put on a solid showing against LA Loop, with Dwayne Benjamin and Ron Freeman racking up highlights, and Deonte North building his confidence. Pandas looked good, too, despite a loss to Jaguars, as Ron Artest Jr. picked up the scoring slack from their missing centerpiece guards Vince Camper and Robbie Robinson.
Each and every team earned their spot, so there won’t be any waffling about statistical quirks this year. These are the squads that left every excuse at the door and came to produce. Now, they all look ahead, each determined to prove their worth and knowing that they’ll have to bring nothing less than their best if they want to survive the first round of the playoffs this weekend.