Week Five Review: Our Biggest Week Yet?
The play on the floor is always up to par in the BBAL, but this week, it was off the court moves and acquisitions that made it so special.
The Tropics and Woodpeckers got it done this week and now are at the top of the league (4-1). The Titans and 8 Balls also got wins getting them above .500 (3-2). The Bullies now lose two straight but are still in the middle of the pack (3-2). The Dragons drop 3 straight and are now below .500 (2-3). The Lanc Show can't get it done (1-4), and the Gremlins are still winless (0-5).
3 teams this week were also involved in some trades in hopes to improve their performances as of late.
Let's hop into the details of this week's games and rumors...
Game 1: Woodpeckers beat Bullies 58-48
In a game that should've been primetime, this game did not disappoint. Before tipoff, we saw Jah Greaves warming up with the Bullies wearing their jersey. Mr. Greaves was obviously trying to hint to us what the future had in store. From the start, it was evident that Denzel Kabasele was not being as aggressive as he normally is. This was because he wanted to make it a point that "(his) team could not score if he was the one not scoring." He had a point as the 'Peckers got up 16-3 to start the game. Denzel finished with 21 and 7 boards in his last game in a Bullies uniform. Even with Denzel aggressive, it took them a bit to get the ball rolling as they were only able to score 8 points in the first 14 minutes of the game. The Woodpeckers continued to show there is no "I" in "team" as they had 4 players in double digits. Jack Engle had 18, Trey Wells 13 (and 13 boards), Devin Atkinson had a double-double as well with 12 and 10, and Nevin Roman also had 10. If that does not scream balanced scoring I don't know what does.
The Bullies were able to chip away at this lead in the second half, but it was too little too late. It seemed that the team had already made up their mind on who they were trading at that point. With Denzel and Eli Basenga arguing with Captain Liam Besecker and Kurt Goldbach, the team had reached the point of no return. The frustration spilled onto the court as there was a lack of hustle from the Bullies and the Woodpeckers kept their foot on the gas. Woodpeckers showed their poise and experience as they got the win by 10.
The Woodpeckers shot 42% from the field and tallied up 12 assists, 8 of them coming from the Atkinson bros. They also were able to evenly match the Bullies in rebounding at 37.
Other than Denzel, no player reached double figures as their second highest scorer was Kurt with 8. Liam had 7 and 12 boards while Eli had 6 and 6.
Was this the farewell tour Denzel and Eli would have wanted? Absolutely not. But it seems like the two of them are happy to be moving in a new direction. Denzel, an MVP candidate, was traded for last years MVP candidate Jah Greaves. Eli was traded for Gremlins player Gavin Sullivan, who has voiced wanting to be apart of the Bullies before the season had even started.
Player of the Game: Jack Engle: 18 Points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
Game 2: Titans beat Dragons 77-52
In a game where two brothers faced off, the so called "brotherly love" was evident all throughout the game. In a game that consisted of 32 free throws, it seemed like there was a lot more standing around than play at some points. Tied early on in the first half, Jah Greaves got the Dragons working as he finished with 11 in the first. Uncle Kevin and Trevor St. Claire, two of the old heads in the league, battled it out as Trevor finished with 9 (and a 3 pointer!) and Uncle Kevin finished with 6. Let's give out our respect to these two as they battled and hustled more than anyone else out there. Not to mention Uncle Kevin is over 60!
As the second half came around, the Titans came out rolling. Going on a 13-7 run and eventually getting up by 21. Andy Santiago went down for them early on in the second half though which seemed to be an ankle injury. A defensive menace and MIP hopeful will be a big blow to the Titans and we can only pray he gets better.
The Titans maintained this lead though as they went 11-26 from 3. They also shot 51% from the field! They rushed to the finish line and were able to get the win by 25, their largest margin of victory this year.
Captain Johnny Besecker tallied in 28 and 7 boards, Bam Aikens had a sneaky 19 with 3 threes, and Elijah Bynum came back from injury with 9 points and a three ball. Noah Thomas (6) and KJ Myers also held it down on the defensive end which helped secure them the win. This was the best they looked all year and they did it without their second leading scorer Joe Chupick (11.5).
The Wazuzu Dragons have gone from title favorites, to busts, to title favorites again with this new trade involving Jah Greaves and Denzel Kabasele. Jah made it clear he wanted out last week as he was even seen talking to Bullies management mid game. He was granted his wish and is now going to continue playing for them. Kevin Roldan performed this week putting 17 while Captain Jeb Besecker put up 11. Mike Myers stayed steady on the defensive end and was able to grab 9 boards and 2 steals. The Dragons face the Bullies next week in one of the most highly anticipated matchups in BBAL history.
Player of the Game: Johnny Besecker: 28 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks.
Honorable Mention: Bam Aikens: 19 points, 2 rebounds, 3-4 from 3, and 54% field goal percentage.
Game 3: Tropics beat Lanc Show 74-60.
After performing the biggest upset this year, we knew the Lanc Show would have their hands full against the Tropics. The Lanc Show were off to a rough start when their star player and Captain, Grant Conway, was late to the game due to vehicular difficulties. His team was able to hold off for awhile, being led by Connor Engle who finished the first half with 13. The Lanc Show looked truly back as they were up at half 37-33.
As we got into the second half, the Tropics had an incredible run that is only comparable to one that the Warriors have in the 3rd quarter. Tyler Crespo led the run as his swift dribbling and playmaking was impossible to stop. He finished the game with 26 on 50% shooting and 4-10 from 3. Captain Brad Atkinson's playmaking and leadership was once again on display as he had 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. Jaxon Weyforth had another standout game with 16 points and Austin Groft was a pest on defense with a game high 5 steals! This beautiful run of basketball is what locked up their 4th win on the year. At the top of the BBAL standings right now and with an MVP hopeful, this team looks very dangerous.
On the Lanc Show side of things, they were unable to recover once the Tropics went on that run. They struggled to knockdown 3s shooting at 26% (23% on the season). They were able to get 3 guys in double figures with Connor Engle leading the way with 21. Scott Slade brought in 17 and Mark Goldbach had 10 and 7 boards. While the general public seems to worry about this teams woes, I think the players in the league know what this teams capable of and their championship DNA. For them to be able to keep the game as close as they did for as long as they did was impressive, especially when it's a rough night shooting. Defense is this teams mantra and we know what wins teams championships.
Player of the Game: Tyler Crespo: 26 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals.
Game 4: 8 Balls beat Gremlins 68-62
With the two leading scorers in the league battling it out in a primetime game, they did not disappoint. A record setting performance on both sides as Ross Conway and Makai Ortiz-Gray were both able to drop 40 bombs and combine for 85 points! The two ballers did everything they could to have their team come out victorious, and it was the 8 Balls who came out on top.
This game was a heavyweight bout that consisted of Ross and Makai going back and forth, blow after blow. The first half saw upwards of 4 lead changes! After a rollercoaster of 20 minutes, the two squads were tied, with Ross and Makai both having 20. The 8 Balls jumped out to an early 2nd half lead of 9, but Makai and the Gremlins were able to cut it down to 3 when Tony Cruz had a huge And-1 late in the second half. At this point, it had become mano a mano as Ross and Makai were going back and forth with each other. Ross hits a 3, then Makai responds with one of his own. At the end of this epic battle, the 8 Balls were able to survive the hungry Gremlins. Despite this teams fight in every game this year, they still remain winless. Ross finished with 43, currently the scoring leader at 32.4, and Makai finished with 42, in second place with 31.2.
The 8 Balls got this win without key player Chris Richards because of players like (obviously) Ross and Calan Titus. Calan also put up 17, matching his season average. Although scoring was not on display for the rest of the 8 Balls, they showed up in other key areas. Daniel Myers, like his brother, put on a clinic grabbing 9 rebounds and getting 4 blocks. Rob Anater dished out 2 assists and got 4 boards while Danny "Dillo" grabbed a huge offensive rebound that helped lock the game up. Raaker Smith and Peter Bilson also got some big, clutch buckets.
Makai and the Gremlins got some help from players like Gavin Sullivan (11), who is now on the Bullies, and Captain Tony Cruz (9). JJ Keck cleaned up the glass grabbing 8 rebounds while Kerek Myers and Stephen Pisano helped out dishing a combined 2 assists. Will this Gavin trade help the Gremlins? We're not sure. But something had to be done. Gavin wanted out and the Gremlins need to win. Eli Basenga can help them with his length and athleticism on the defensive end, which is where they struggle most giving up an average of 67 per game. Gremlins face a determined Lanc Show team next week in what should be an entertaining game.
Player of the Game: Ross Conway: 43 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block.
Honorable Mention: Makai Ortiz-Gray: 42 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 assists.
Week 6 Schedule:
Tropics Vs Woodpeckers
8 Balls Vs Titans
Gremlins Vs Lanc Show
Bullies Vs Dragons