Buffalo, NY- After one of the most exciting season’s in league history, it all came to an epic conclusion this past weekend. Both divisions were represented by league favorites, full of character and league heritage. In a first for the league, the semis and finals were both played on the final day. This format brought a near lethal dose of hoops action to the Knights of Columbus, which was the perfect conclusion not just to the season, but for the final game played on the Knights court. After nearly forty years of action and thousands and thousands of games, the floor is being replaced in the off-season and a brand new floor will be ready for action next season.
The first game of the afternoon featured Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy against Healthy Buffalo. Healthy Buffalo played them tough and stayed in it right down to the end, but Lenny Frears (10 points) and company were on a mission and they would not be stopped by the Healthy Buffalo squad. Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy pulled off the win, 76-68, but it did little to diminish a great season for Healthy Buffalo as they put together a squad of league favorites and went deep into the playoffs to have one of the best season’s in franchise history.
In game two, the VeryAggressiveGuys took on Team First. After a string of disappointing season’s the VeryAggressiveGuys put together a nice showing this season, but it wasn’t enough to slow down Team First, who were once again led by Mike Gompah, who led all scorers with 18 points and captain Bashir Ansari who chipped in 16 points to complement his leadership presence on the court. Team First pulled out the 53-44 win and a trip to the finals to play Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy.
Next up were the League A semifinals. The first game of the day featured Swoopin’ In On Ya Girl against YAO Know What I MING. YAO Know What I MING was a slight favorite after capturing the top seed, but John Papincak and Swoopin’ In On Ya Girl were finally coming together after a tumultuous regular season. Many Healthy Buffalo analysts were rooting for a Swoopin’ vs. Norfolk N’ Chance matchup for the finals, which would have been seen as a ratings bonanza, but both teams would have to advance against higher seeded teams to get that dream matchup.
Joe Cappola came out on fire to start the game, knocking down five consecutive three-pointers as Swoopin’ defenders did little to disrupt his shooting. Despite the strong start, Swoopin’ cut the lead to two points going into the second half. In the second half Mike Ridge (16 points) and Jon Hannon (14 points) took over. Despite strong shooting in the second half from Dean Antalik (17 points) no one else on Swoopin’ could get it going and their title dreams came to a screeching halt as Mike Ridge and YAO Know What I MING would advance to the finals to play the winner of Full Clip and Norfolk N’ Chance.
After the fallout in season seven, Jon Plail was determined to prove that he could lead his team to a title if he had the right pieces. With the playoffs here and his team in contention, he had gotten his chance to prove it. Full Clip was thought of as perhaps the most balanced team in the league and were favored in the semifinal matchup. Plail came out and scored 21 first half points, while leading Norfolk N’ Chance to a comfortable 30-23 point lead at the break. In the second half, Full Clip’s guards got it going and began knocking down some three’s and with only a few minutes remaining they took their first lead of the game. With eight seconds remaining Full Clip had a three point lead and it appeared that they would complete the come back and get the win. Josh Becker had a chance to tie it with a decent look from three point range, but it rimmed out. Adam Brasky pulled down the rebound and kicked it out to Norfolk N’ Chance veteran Mark Giordano, who launched it from three-point range and tied the game as time ran out in regulation. Full Clip captain Andrew Alfieri disputed the call and demanded a video replay, arguing that Girodano’s foot was on the line, but league rules do not account for video replays. Norfolk N’ Chance would go on to win the game in double OT and would face YAO Know What I MING in the finals.
In the League B finals Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy looked to finish what they started last season, where they came up just short of a title against JLin & The Tempatations in the finals. This season they would have to go through the formidable Team First. At halftime the game was deadlocked, with Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy holding a slight 26-25 lead. The atmosphere in the gym was electric as every call and every basket was followed by cheers and gripes. Team First was once again led by Mike Gompah, who led all scorers with 16 points and continued to establish himself as one of the divisions premier big men. But it wouldn’t be enough to stop Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy as they completed their title run and became the first team in league history to capture a title after entering the playoffs in the eighth spot. Congratulations to Lenny Frears, who finally got a title and put an exclamation point on his long and distinguished career in the league.
The last game of the night and the final game ever to be played on the floor at the Knights before being replaced was YAO Know What I Ming and Norfolk N’ Chance. YAO Know What I Ming came in confident after only losing one game the entire season and coming in as the top seeded team, while Norfolk N’ Chance was hungry and looking to bring home their first title in franchise history. Norfolk N’ Chance jumped out to a quick start taking a six point lead into the half. In the second half the defenses tightened up, while Norfolk N’ Chance slowed down the pace of the game, maintained their lead throughout, and brought home the win 65-59. Josh Becker led all scorers with 25 points and put the finishing touches on an excellent inaugural season in the league.
That’s a wrap on season eight. Registration is now open for season nine, which starts on October 5th. The fall season will include tickets to a Cavs game at Quicken Loans Arena and a chance to represent Healthy Buffalo on the court before the game. Register now because spots are limited and will fill up fast!