We had another great day of playoff action, with 12 semi-final games setting up this coming Sunday's championship games. The long day both started and ended with nail-biting, two-point victories.
In the first game of the day, Our Eyes Are Up Here! continued their surprising playoff surge with a 41-39 win over Slow Mavs. Eyes lost their last five regular-season games in a row, but started off the playoffs with a 32-30 squeaker win over Griffins. Another two-point win now puts them in the D-VI championship game. The Mavs got off to a horrendously slow start, missing several easy shotsat Eyes built a lead. Mike Hein and Jason Spector finally found the range as the Mavs cut the lead to a single point by halftime. The two teams traded the lead back and forth, until, with just under two minutes left in the game, Eyes had the ball with the score tied. Heather Paddock (see Player of the Week) spotted up and drained a three, giving Eyes a lead they would not relinquish. Eyes will face off with Hickory, which shook off a pesky Just a Game squad, 46-42.
In the highlight game of the day, Icy Hots held off Young Gunz, 60-57. It was an outstanding game with the teams trading long threes and spirited runs. Icy Hots will square off with Heroes, which downed perennial championship contender The Hawgs. The Zeroes have assembled an all-star squad that includes long-range killer Jon Brogan, seven-foot center Chris Ayer, offensive monster Marcus Campbell, and defensive stalwart Pat Murray. Heroes raced out to a 20-point lead, but then saw the Hawgs steadily chip away. The Hawgs got it down to five points late in the game, but then missed two open threes that would have turned the game into a toss-up.
Dylan Johnson led a second-half surge that helped Illuminati overcome Warriors, 67-59. A thunderous dunk on an inbounds play gave Illuminati the lead and they held on for the win. Hey Arnold! regained its collective shooting touch, draining 15 threes en route to a win over W.O.B.S.
Sour Patch Kids, who went a dismal 0-8 in the regular season, have made it to the finals. Locked in a tight battle with Flying Squirrels midway through the second half, the Kids went on three-pointer tear to break the game open. Ashraf Alfatesh, Osama Solieman, Kyle Evans, Jeremy Rinker, and Gabe Fronzaglio all hit threes in the stretch. The Kids will take on Benchwarmers in the finals. Benchwarmers slipped past Sunshine Boys, 56-54, in a thriller.
L.J. Turner hit several clutch free throws down the stretch to lift Wolf Pack to a come-from-behind, 43-42 win over Purple Nurples.
Other winners included Tropics, Scrap Attack, and Outlawz.
One quick note: We refs would prefer to have all of the playoff games played in a six-hour block. However, some teams must play at night, while others prefer to play in the daytime. I do my best to accommodate everybody, but it's not always completely possible.
The Fall League begins Sunday, September 7.