By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
Sunday, June 20th was the Semfinal Round of the NDL Playoffs, at the SECC.
In the B-Division, the Mob Squad faced Dawgpound LLC and Team Pace went up against JustInTime.
The A-Division matchups were BottomLine Sports led by Ed Anderson vs. Team VAZ, led by 🐐 Mike Vaz; and Team RBC, led on the court by Ty Nichols, vs. Team Gee.
All four games were closely contested, even though the two A-Division games got out of hand in the 4th quarter🦵🏽🏀.
If you weren’t at the games, ⬇️
Mob Squad vs. Dawgpound LLC
Unfortunately, I missed the first quarter of this game 😔 but I did see most of it 👍🏾.
In the 2nd quarter, Mob Squad (MS) began making a comeback from their 1st quarter deficit. They got some opportunities in transition, while Dawgpound LLC had trouble converting shots.
In the third, Dawgpound LLC (DP LLC)
started to turn up their defensive pressure which led to easy shots in transition. MS struggled all game with their offense. They settled for a lot of jump-shots. DP LLC led after three quarters, 27-19.
MS finally found some offensive rhythm in 4th. DP LLC maintained their offensive output and edged pass MS 34-29. They battled their way to the B-Division Final. Their opponent was decided in the next game.
Team Pace vs. JustInTime
The first quarter was tough to watch. Neither team could get any offense going. The defense by both teams was good. JustInTime (JIT) led after 1, 7-6.
Each teams offense started to pick up in the 2nd quarter.
Team Pace was led by Guard Josh Norris. He gets a lot of elevation on his jump-shot ⬆️.
In the 2nd, Norris hit 3 straight 3s but only 2 counted. The first 3 hit the wire supporting the side hoop (which is fairly common in these games) and was waived off. He came down on the TP next offensive play and drained a 3 that counted. The last 3 was on fast break, where he flared out to the wing and hit the shot, all net 🌧.
Team Pace was ahead at halftime 17-14.
The game remained close in the third. The score was tied at 18 and again at 26. TP led at the end of the third quarter 28-26.
Norris led TP in the 4th. TP opened up their lead, 35-27, 2 minutes in to the 4th quarter. Norris was hitting shots and getting his teammates easy shots.
He also provided the FPM Quote of the Week:
“You gon’ break”.
Team Pace beat JustInTime 43-31.
They advanced to the Finals and will play Dawgpound LLC.
Team VAZ vs. Bottomline Sports
This was a great game, for one half.
Once again, this matchup pitted Ed Anderson vs. Mike Vaz against each other. These two are very well respected in Springfield/Western Mass, for obvious reasons.
Four minutes in to the game, the score was tied at 6. Each team got the shots they wanted but neither team was converting at a high percentage. Bottomline Sports (BLS) was ahead 13-12 after the 1st quarter.
BLS had trouble scoring in the 2nd quarter. Four minutes in to the 2nd, they had only scored 2 points. Team VAZ (TV) took the lead 17-15. BLS was missing easy shots. Easy shots 🤷🏽♂️.
TV led at halftime 23-21. Despite BLS’ offensive struggles, they were still in the game.
The offensive power of TV showed up in the second half and it all happened in one wave 🌊.
TV was only up two at the start of the third.
TV hit three straight 3s to open the 3rd 🔥: 2 by former Longmeadow HS ⭐️ John Williams and one by Guard Shakim Grant. Williams hit one, Grant hit the next and Williams hit the third. TV went up 32-21 quickly. BLS never recovered. The 3rd ended with TV up 40-29.
TV Forward Devonte McCall scored 8 of his 20 points in the 4th quarter. BLS scored a total of nine points in the 4th quarter.
Once Williams, McCall and Grant all got going, BLS couldn’t be helped 😔.
The game ended after Grant caught another bang 💥. The ball was inbounded and a BLS player punted the ball to the ceiling 🤣 🦵🏽🏀 🔝.
Team VAZ won 57-38. They earned their spot in the championship and would face the winner of Team RBC vs. Team GEE
Team RBC vs. Team Gee
This game got off to a rough start offensively. There were a lot of fouls and relatively lengthy conversations with the referees. One player said (paraphrasing) that he would keep fouling the offensive player he was guarding to make sure the ref was actually making foul calls. Interesting strategy 🤷🏽♂️.
The first quarter ended 8-6 RBC.
Team Gee continued to struggle on offense in the 2nd. They were down 15-8. Team GEE (TG) put Josh Norris in the game. TG went on a 7-2 run and narrowed the lead 17-15 RBC.
RBC started making shots again and led at halftime 23-19.
The third quarter was closely contested the entire 10 minutes. The score was tied at 31, at the end of the third. Ty Nichols was the only player to score for RBC in the 3rd. He logged 8 points; Team Gee scored 12 points in the 3rd.
The last spot for a chance to play in the 🏆 game was 10 minutes away.
RBC came out on fire in 4th quarter. They went on an 11-4 run to open the quarter. They were making shots and getting stops on defense.
That run was enough to keep the lead over Team Gee.
RBC beat Team GEE 57-42.
RBC earned the final spot for Championship Sunday.
I you haven’t seen, this is the schedule for Sunday:
🏆B-Division Championship - 1 PM🏆
🏀Team PACE vs. Dawgpound LLC🏀
🏆A-Division Championship - 2 PM🏆
🏀Team RBC vs. Team VAZ🏀
The games are at the South End Community Center, Scibelli Gym.