As with the earlier game, I’m only able to take down brief notes during the breaks in play. Let’s get right to them.
– Crusaders find their points on pass-based perimeter plays in the opening minutes, knocking down a pair of triples to give them an early lead. Pearl Harbor, however, claw their way back into the game by taking the battle inside, finding their points mostly on big-man layups and free throws.
– Crusaders soon loose their grasp on the contest, however, allowing their opponents to control the tempo at both ends of the floor in the following minutes. A fancy dribbling display in which he breaks his man twice before laying it in and a pull-up three put Pearl Harbor comfortably in the lead at 20-12 with fourteen minutes left in the half.
– The next phase of the game sees the teams share a scoring drought, managing only nine points total between the fourteen- and the eight-minute mark. The fact that seven have come from Crusaders means that we now have something resembling a game on our hands at 22-19. Realising this, the trees start to increase their intensity inside, grabbing shirts and throwing ‘bows for the first time this evening.
– This correlates to an improvement in the overall quality of play, both sides now finding the baskets flowing more freely even in the face of greater defensive pressure. A fastbreak alley-oop play by Crusaders causes the crowd to increase their effort as well, with a pair of blocks at either end further bringing up the noise levels.
– The first half ends with a string of increasingly improbably layups by both squads, the final attempt of the half rimming out as the buzzer sounds. Pearl Harbor take a 34-28 lead going into the break, but no assurance that this game is theirs.
– The first few minutes of the second see a seven-foot-something shot-blocking stick insect take over the game, working inside on awkward post moves for back-to-back-to-back dunks that make it look as if it’s going to be his game. The point guards quickly reclaim it, though, engaging in a series of battles in which both break the other’s ankles multiple times with tricky dribbling and warp-speed crossovers.
– While the game is as engaging as it’s been all night at this point, the score would indicate otherwise, with Pearl Harbor holding a commanding 53-38 lead with over ten minutes left in the contest. It continues to be a point guard match-up in the next phase of the game, albeit with fewer flashy moves and baskets by the two.
– The reinsertion of Pearl Harbor’s big man into the line-up signals a switch in styles, with more effort being made by the little men to defer to the post players. This results in similarly low-scoring basketball, with the bulk of the remaining points coming off scrappy second-chance plays and free throws, putting the score at only 59-45 with three minutes on the game clock.
– Although it has little impact on the game’s final outcome, Pearl Habor’s centre finally finds his feet in the closing two minutes, asserting himself defensively while displaying the sort of soft touch rare in such a sizeable specimen.
– Crusaders don’t seem to be willing to concede the game even at this last stage, putting in two hard fouls around a pair of quick trifectas in the last minute of the contest. Layups are traded in the game’s dying moments, and the game is called with five seconds to go.