Heats draw first blood in best-of-three Howard McCatty Community Basketball finals


Heats draw first blood in best-of-three Howard McCatty Community Basketball finals

Observer writer

Monday, August 19, 2019

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First-time finalist Exed Heats staved off a late final-quarter attack from Spanish Town Spartans to win game one 68-63 and take a 1-0 lead, in their best-of-three Sports Development Foundation (SDF)/National Integrity Action (NIA) Howard McCatty Community Basketball Championship finals at Peace Park Court in Grant's Pen on Saturday.

The Heats win was led by Omar Barnes with 20 points, Omari Green (13 points), and captain Anthony White, who scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, captain Swayveon Henry (17 points), Damion Johnson with 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Lloyd Mitchell, 13 points and 10 rebounds, were the stand-out performers in the Spartans' losing effort.

Winning coach Rohan Robinson lauded his team for executing according to their strength, and is optimistic of a similar performance in game two scheduled for Wednesday at Thompson Park Court in Spanish Town.

“Our players are very strong inside the shooting circle and they capitalised well, despite missing chances on several turnovers; but we were able to pull through with the win.

“We know game two will be another tough encounter, as Spartans are expected to come very hard at us to level the series, but we are looking to win game two and also wrap up the series,” Robinson reasoned.

It was an evenly contested encounter to the delight of those in attendance, as both teams traded quick baskets in an effort to gain the early advantage in the opening quarter. But Spartans, boasting players of bigger stature, gradually pulled ahead through a series of fast breaks led by Johnson and Henry, which saw them leading 18-14 at the first interval.

Heats signalled intentions with eight quick points in the early stages of the second quarter, as Barnes combined well with Green and White to push their team ahead before a late rally from the Spartans cut the deficit to two, 30-28, at half-time.

An electrifying third quarter provided spectators with a treat as both teams fired on all cylinders, particularly Spartans, who levelled the scores at 36-36 followed by a three-pointer from Andre Rose that pushed them ahead 39-36 midway the quarter. However, the Heats failed to give up and again stuck their nose in front at 54-48 heading into the final break.

And from there they picked up the pace, surging further ahead by 10 points at 62-52 deep into the fourth quarter. But a lapse in concentration allowed Spartans to rally strongly, cutting the deficit to three points at 64-61 with just under two minutes remaining in the game.

However, Heats were able to hold their nerve to escape with the five-point win, as Spartans failed in their attempt to hit crucial baskets in the closing stages of the game.

Spartans coach Ricoya Francis believes the game lived up to expectations, but was slightly disappointed to come out on the wrong end.

“The players made too many mistakes with their turnovers and they will need to reduce it in game two, as we are looking towards winning and levelling the series. Game two should be another keenly contested battle as the team producing the least mistakes should win, similar to what happened here where the Heats made less mistakes and came out winning,” Francis said.

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