Before we get to the recaps, here's the upcoming playoff schedule:
Thursday, April 8th:
8:15: 5th/6th place classification game (Dunk-a Schoen vs. Team Fouls)
9:00: Semifinal #1: #1 vs. #4 (TBD vs. Beast of Burden)
9:45: Semifinal #2: #2 vs. #3 (TBD vs. Hospital Bombers)
Friday, April 15th:
8:15: Bronze Medal Game
9:15: The Grand Army Cup Championship
Week 9 Recaps:
The Cray's Nest 48, Beast of Burden 44
Shane Ryan's break-out game propelled The Cray's Nest to a 4-point win, putting them in position to win the regular season championship with one more victory. Ryan, who has been bothered by a sprained ankle for much of the season, scored 18, including two foul shots with 7 seconds remaining to clinch the game. He was joined on the score sheet by Vance Tucker and Lars Rasmussen, who each contributed 10 points while dominating the paint, and Jacob Craycroft, who added 6.
The Cray's Nest employed an extended 3-2 zone, and the results were favorable. For the first time this season, guards Rafael and Ismael Rodriguez seemed to be retreating on the perimeter, bothered by advancing guards and the occasional trap. Rafael managed to score 14, while Ismael had 13 in the losing cause. After holding a slim halftime lead, bolstered by Brian Love's two three-pointers, Beast of Burden lost steam in the second half, and only a furious late-game charge kept this one close. Down by 5 with ten seconds remaining, Ismael Rodriguez was fouled shooting from long range, and he converted all three free throws. Ryan received the inbounds, was quickly fouled, and made both ends of the 1-and-1. Rasmussen's harassing defense prevented BoB from getting a quick shot off, and the game ended with their desperation three coming up short.
The Cray's Nest lead the league with a 7-2 record, and can secure the title with a Week 10 win over Team Fouls. Beast of Burden slip to 4-5, but now own the fourth playoff spot by virtue of Dunk-a Schoen's loss.
Layup Line Heroes 39, Dunk-a Schoen 31
The Heroes showed why they were ranked first in the latest power rankings with this convincing win over a desperate Dunk-a Schoen team. Saulo Feliciano led all scorers with 15 points, and controlled the game from the point guard position. His steady hand ensured that the contest would be fought in the half-court set, where the Heroes excel. Keith Gormley, in a tight contest for the league's scoring title, finished with 10 points, while back-court mate Matt Brinkmann added 7. Greg Wyrick and Colby Hall rounded out the scoring with 5 and 4, respectively.
Despite a balanced scoring attack led by Ben Weitmarschen's 10 points, Dunk-a Schoen could never find an offensive rhythm. It's been a recurring problem for the team, and Thursday provided no solutions. They were continuously stymied in their forays into the paint, a credit to the defense of Gormley, Wyrick, and Brinkmann, and the resulting three point shots would not fall. Zach Heinzerling had 7 points, while Mark Lee and Kevin Felder added 6 apiece. Whitney Warren, a member of last season's championship squad, was held to 2.
The Heroes upped their record to 6-3, and can win the title with a victory over The Hospital Bombers and a Cray's Nest loss in Week 10, provided they gain 13 differential points in the process. Dunk-a Schoen had a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive with a win, but the loss relegates them to the fifth place classification game. They finish the regular season against Beast of Burden.
The Hospital Bombers 41, Team Fouls 38
A slick passing game helped the Bombers secure a slim victory over Team Fouls in the late contest. Nate Purinton had his best game of the year, scoring 11 points and connecting on 4 of 6 from the line, to lead the winners. Kerry Brown, the keystone of the motion offense, added 11 of her own, including 3 from downtown. This strong perimeter tandem drew Team Fouls forward, enabling Bob Van Kolken to score 10 points in the paint.
In the end, it was all too much for Team Fouls, who put forth a game effort nonetheless. Andrew Weiner scored 12 points, all from long range, and Zach Smith, Trista Sordillo, and Chris Bonastia added 4 each. They had several chances to take the lead late, but their three point attempts against the Bomber zone would not fall. With ten seconds remaining, down two points, Purinton was sent to the line. He hit the front end of the 1-and-1, but missed the second, giving Team Fouls one last chance to tie. Unfortunately, Chris Bonastia was harrassed from the get-go, couldn't find an open man, and was forced into a bad shot as time expired.
The Bombers move to 6-3 on the year, and stand in second place going into Week 10's match with the Layup Line Heroes. Because they've lost both games to The Cray's Nest, they cannot win the regular season title. Team Fouls falls to 2-7, and will meet The Cray's Nest in Week 10 before facing Dunk-a Schoen in the 5th place classification game.