|Posted by THE BOSS on April 29, 2015 at 7:40 AM|
Bristol Bulls got to within 0.4 seconds away from their dream of reaching their second final of this season before an under-strength Old Boys squad turned it into a nightmare. Old Boys - with several key regulars missing because of other commitments, with Tony playing with whiplash from last week’s collision, and Pete trying to play with a chest infection - scored first through an inside move by Andy but then failed to convert for the next five minutes. Meanwhile, Frackiewicz scored the first two of his five triples in the game and O. Wolski scored on three fast-break lay-ups to give Bulls a dream 12-2 start. Rahquon got his first points from the post in the 6th minute and converted the plus-one, then Abe made one of a pair from the line, followed by Rahqs doing the same. Abe scored back-to-back baskets in the 7th, Andy got another in the 8th and Mike scored his first jumper of the game in the 10th to see Old Boys recover from an awful start and end the quarter just 6 down at 21-15.
We suffered another setback at the start of the 2nd quarter, though, as S. Wolski and Nogowski both swished triples and our only reply in 4 minutes was another J from Mike. Frackiewicz scored another pair of triples and they got two more fast break buckets before Wozniak hit a triple from four feet beyond the arc to take their half-time score to 40. We just about stayed in touch through three more scores from Rahqs, two more from Abe and a triple from Tony to go in at half-time on 30.
At the start of the 3rd Andy and Rahqs both split a charity pair before Tony put us right back in contention with back-to-back triples off Pete’s repeat fake and pass from the corner. Meanwhile, at the defensive end, every Old Boy bust a gut to keep them to just two baskets, one in the 4th and another in the 5th. Abe got another under the basket, but couldn’t convert the bonus, then Tony hit his fourth of the game from the great beyond at the top of the D to put us just a single point behind. Andy was fouled again in the D in the 7th and made both frees for our first lead in 25 minutes of play. Abe split another pair and banked a short J in the 10th to take us to 48-44 up at the end of a remarkable effort at both ends of the court that saw us take the quarter 18-4.
Mike swished another mid-range J at the start of the 4th quarter to take us 6 up and Andy split another pair of frees, but Bulls weren’t done yet and came back with three baskets and one of a pair to tie again at 51 in the 5th. Rahqs was put on the line again to swish both of a pair, then Tony made the second of his pair to put us 3 points up again, but Wozniak erased that with yet another long triple. Mike converted a back-door lay-up after a patient build-up and Rahqs made the first of another pair in the 9th for another 3-point lead. Mike and Jamie both injuring themselves defending Bulls next two attacks was representative of the defensive effort of the whole bench.
Both teams missed shots or violated the shot clock on their next couple of offenses and now Old Boys just had to hold out against one more Bulls’ attack. Despite our front three closely defending the top of the arc, Frackiewicz swished another perfect rainbow triple, despite Gordon right in his face, to tie the game yet again at 57 with about thirty seconds remaining. After the time-out we worked the ball into Abe for the last shot. He was clearly fouled – a very long-serving referee sitting alongside our bench shook his head at how they missed that call – but was called for a travel instead.
So now Bulls found themselves with an unexpected last chance, and after their time-out they worked it around to wind the clock down before Plotkowski ended up with the ball. Both whistles went with the clock showing 0.4 seconds remaining. The lead official signalled a travel by Plotkowski, but the trailing official signalled a foul by an Old Boy. They discussed it and in the end the foul stood and we were in team fouls, so Plotkowski stepped to the line needing just one of the pair to take Bulls to the Plate Final. The lady of large stature hadn’t started singing yet, though; the pressure got to him and he missed them both. Even then, they got a hand to the rebound on the second miss and almost tipped it in, but it rolled around the rim and out and we were headed for overtime.
We scored first through Abe – he put in a tremendous 45 minute shift – but they retook a 3-point lead with one of a pair and two baskets in the 2nd and 3rd. We then shut them out completely for the next two and a half minutes where nothing would drop for them and they resorted to increasingly desperate three-point attempts. Meanwhile, at our offensive end, Abe and Andy were both fouled and each made the second of the pair to put us just a point behind. At the start of the 5th Rahquon made arguably the play of the game by intercepting a risky pass then dribbling the length of the court on the break before going under the rim to reverse the lay-up to give us the one-point lead. He was fouled in the process, but couldn’t convert the freebie. No matter, because he scored another bucket on the next offense, we shut them out again on their last attack and Tony was fouled on the drive on our last offense in the final seconds. He topped his best performance of the season by swishing the pair for a five-point win for us on 67-62. As Mike said in the bar after, perhaps we should give him a good clout to the head before every game from now on.
Bulls had won the 1st and 2nd periods 21-15 and 19-15, but Old Boys bounced back with a colossal 18-4 3rd quarter, before Bulls prevailed again in the 4th to take it 13-9 and retie the game. But, when the going got really tough, the really tough got going to take the extra period 10-5 for a trip to the Plate Final for the second year running.
Frackiewicz had a near-perfect game to swish five from downtown at crucial moments to earn his MVP from us, while they gave their award to Andy for his consistent work at both ends. The fact is, we had nine MVPs who worked non-stop together to find a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Scorers: Chambers 18, Ahmed 17, Kissoon 15, Broughton 9 (MVP), Bailey 8.