MANHATTAN - When the dust had settled Thursday night, four teams sat together at the bottom of the standings, all with a record of 1-2.
Hospital Bombers 45, Beast of Burden 44
Geoff Nelson sent an electric shock through the league in Thursday's early game, hitting a world record 7 3-pointers to give the Hospital Bombers a narrow victory over Beast of Burden.
Against the league's toughest frontcourt defense, the Bombers came out hot, running up a 24-13 halftime lead on good shooting and even better ball movement. Beast of Burden couldn't find an offensive rhythm, and things looked hopeless as they congregated during the intermission. But a strategic transition to a full court press gave them new life in the second half. They crawled back over and over, narrowing the gap until their surge to the lead seemed inevitable. But whenever things got too close, Nelson's hot hand held the fort. With 23 points total, he scored over half of the Hospital Bomber points, and it was enough by millimeters to secure a retreating victory.
Rafael Rodriguez scored 18 points, including a clutch 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 1 with 4 seconds remaining, and Ismael Rodriguez tallied 17 in the losing cause. Nate Purinton had 9 for the victors, and center Bob Van Kolken made his bones early with 7 points in the paint. Kieran Valla added 5 for Beast of Burden.
Team Fouls 43, Layup Line Heroes 32
Jubilation erupted as the buzzer sounded in game 2, giving Team Fouls their first win of the season. "The monkey is off our back," Zach Smith shouted in the joyous post-game melee, echoing the sentiments of a relieved organization. Smith and teammate Andrew Weiner led the winners, each notching a trio of treys and scoring in double digits (11 for Smith, 13 for Weiner). But it was the contributions of the rest of the team that made the difference, and differentiated this win from previous losses. No member of Team Fouls went scoreless; Dave Polen had 6, Captain Kyle Ervin 5, Trista Sordillo 4, and Chris Bonastia 3.
Variety, however, was not the strong suit of the Layup Line Heroes. Keith Gormley, with 26 points, had an astounding 81% of his team's offensive output. Matt Brinkmann turned in a workmanlike performance on the boards, and Dan Abrams and the Steves (Reiter and Krakauer) had solid defensive performances, but the offense was resoundingly one-dimensional. Even Gormley, the league's leading scorer, couldn't overcome Team Fouls by himself. The Heroes (1-2) will have to seek out some diversity if they want to rediscover their competitive edge in the future.
The Cray's Nest 29, Dunk-a Schoen 27
In a performance that will be sadly outshadowed by Nelson's earlier fireworks, Vance Tucker led The Cray's Nest to a stunning win and kept the perfect season alive. With Lars Rasmussen, Shane Ryan, and Jordan Glickson out of action, Dunk-a Schoen seemed to have a slight advantage. But led by Tucker, the Cray's Nest circled the wagons and kept Dunk-a Schoen from ever finding a workable offense. The 2-3 zone they instituted was nearly impenetrable, and poor shooting on both sides kept the score close.
As time wound down, Dunk-a Schoen managed to recover slightly and tie the game at 27. But Tucker, who ended with 12 points, drove left and scored the winning basket with 13 seconds remaining. Warren's desperation 3 at the buzzer fell just short, and The Cray's Nest had managed the unthinkable. Gene Walsh contributed 7 points for the winning side, including a clutch late 3, and Jane Rizzo had 4. For Dunk-a Schoen, Whitney Warren matched Tucker with 12, and Tom Fleischman had 6, all in the paint.