The championship in the top-level Division (Breaking Away) has been won by either the Basketball Junkies or The Hawgs a combined total of 13 times in the past 15 seasons of the Tucson Basketball League. Well, they now have company in the persons of Da Wolves, a hardy group of thirty- and fortysomethings who play an intense style of old-school basketball. (And no, it's not that crap from the 1990s with the hard fouls and the constant shit-talking) Instead, it's good ball movement, tough defense, and run when you get the chance. And they met their mirror image in the championship game, with The Vets playing the same solid style of ball. It was a joy to behold. Not surprisingly, the final score was a gritty 51-50. Da Wolves actually had a 10-point lead late in the game, but shaky ball-handling and the missing of three straight front ends of one-and-ones allowed The Vets to make it a nailbiter down to the final buzzer.
In the late game, Team UGLY and Flashback staged a classic. Neither team could take more than a four- or five-point lead throughout the contest. UGLY went up five with about a minute to go, but then Flashback's Aaron Anderson went off. Aaron, who played professionally in Europe for several years, is one of the smoothest big men this league has ever seen. He drove the baseline and then exploded for a two-handed dunk. After a missed free throw, Aaron again went to the hole, scored and was fouled. He made the free throw to tie the score. But UGLY didn't panic. They went down and scored to retake a two-point lead. Flashback brought the ball down with 20 seconds left on the clock, plenty of time to get off a good shot. But UGLY's L.J. Turner stepped in the passing lane and got a steal to secure the win.
In other championship games:
--Hickory put an end to the Side Loaders' dream run to the championship game with a 55-42 win. Hickory was led by Matt Swinford and Derek Ogden.
--Fab Five 61, Frosty Hesson 58
--Average Joes 63, Monstarz 58
--Bombs Squad 75, Dawgs 59
--Skoden 74, Brick Layers 60
--The Pack 71, Talkin' 'Bout Practice 60
--Outlawz 59, YSL 47
--Way Past Our Prime 73, Scout Team 47
--Hemoglobin Trotters 48, Ham 36
--KP Ballerz 53, J&A Ballers 49
--Bench Bros 61, Punishers 51
The new season starts this Sunday, May 7th, but it will be a relatively soft opening, with the first week being just be for new teams and some of the teams that lost in the first half of the first round of the Winter playoffs, way back on April 2nd. Then we take the 14th off because it's Mother's Day and Mother's Day is sacred. We'll have more of a grand opening on May 21st. We've got great news. There will be Sundays in June and July where we will have the run of the building. On those days, there WILL BE NO BYES! Every team in the League will play on the same day (unless a team opts not to play because people are out of town for vacation or whatever). It will be amazing.