BROOKLYN, NY - An early afternoon game and snow diminished the crowd's attendance, taking away the Orange Wave's home court advantage as they sought to beat South Shore for the third time in a row. Instead, Jefferson used their desire to get to the Brooklyn Borough championship as motivation as they 3-beat the Vikings, 67-64.
Jefferson Head Coach Lawrence "Bud" Pollard was critical of his team's play even in victory. "Today, we didn't play our best ball," he said. "We never play well the day after a day off." The game, originally scheduled for Thursday was postponed until Friday due to a snowstorm.
Fluctuating between a 2-3 zone and man defenses, the Vikings were able to pull ahead early off Jefferson turnovers and led 8-3 midway through the opening quarter.
"We didn't execute well against their zone," said Coach Pollard who said Valentine's Day was the culprit. "We played like lovers today."
The shifting of defenses continued to befuddle the Orange Wave throughout the year. With 3:25, the Vikings were up 11 as Ryan Preston (17 points) yammed it up high off an alley-opp from Doudmy Saint Hiliare (6 points). Shamorie Ponds (14 points) poured it on for Jefferson late in the quarter but South Shore went into the second quarter up, 22-13.
6'8" Latiek Laney (4 points) got two easy putbacks to extend the Vikings lead but Patrick Brown (24 points) began to make inroads as he slashed to the rim and cut the Vikings lead to seven. South Shore kept running their stuff and with 3:53 the lead was back up to 32-21.
The Vikings zone slowed Jefferson down and forced them to defer to shooting from the perimeter. South Shore's bigs also dominated inside and outlet for transition buckets.
Brown was relentless and drew a foul with 24.9 seconds to get the South Shore's lead under double-digits. After a sequence of turnovers, Brown would cut the Orange Waves lead even further.
South Shore lead was shrunk to 36-29 at the half with Preston providing 10 points. Brown kept Jefferson in the hunt with 9 first half points.
Still in attack mode, Brown got Jefferson's deficit to six points early. The Vikings responded but Brown, Daquise Andrews (9 points) their Orange Wave compatriots continued closing the gap. Brown slithered through the Vikings zone and pulled the Orange Wave to within two points of the lead with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Chaos ensued as bodies hit the floor after loose balls. Jefferson was still down by one when the dust settle and the clock approach 0:00 but at the buzzer, Akeem Adams hit a 3-ball and the Wave finally had a 46-44 advantage to start 4th .
Preston hit a quick midrange to tie the game at 46 but Ponds put Jeff back up and South Shore was now the prey.
Brown, the zone buster, increased lead to four points before the Vikings could respond. Tied again at 50 with 5:36 it was anybodies game.
Both squads stepped up their intensity. The score was knotted at 56 and again at 58.
With 1:33 left in regulation, Jefferson was up by two as Brown seemed to have the key that unlocked the Vikings 2-3 zone. Devyn Wilson (8 points) got a steal under the basket to score for South Shore but again Brown countered.
Shakur Spencer (11 points) tied the game at 62 with 1:03 and the Vikings trapped on defense. With 30 seconds, Devonte Wilson (10 points) hits a clutch three-ball from the corner. Donell Clayton (4 points) countered with a 2-pointer and the score was 65-64, Jefferson.
With 6.4 Brown drove and drew the foul. Brown went 2 for 2 pushing the lead to three points and held on for the win.
"We found a way to win," said Coach Pollard. "That's what good teams do in the playoffs."
Pollard applauded the play of Brown and Wilson saying, "Our two senior guards stepped up [and] made big plays. It's not about making mistakes. You gotta get up, shake it off and make a play."
As they head into yet another borough chip, Coach Pollard believes Jefferson is deserved winning a championship at this point. "We have the longest run. You see, we've been their eight years in a row. No team has been as consistent as we have been, getting to the finals. Hopefully we can win the big one."
Jefferson will play Abraham Lincoln in the Brooklyn Borough Championship at CCNY on Sunday.