Buffalo, NY- Champions League action has officially hit full swing as we move past the midpoint of the season and teams begin jockeying for post season play. The first matchup of the day featured two of League B’s preseason favorites as White Men Can’t Jump hosted the Fastbreakers. Frankie Musso led a dynamic offensive attack leading the White Men with 22 points, while Joey Catalano was blanked in the first half, then exploded for 18 points in the second as the Fastbreakers changed their defensive scheme from man to zone. The Fastbreakers were missing veteran big-man Paul Quarcini who missed the game for personal reasons and have been unable to get their whole squad on the court each week. The White Men picked up the 67-52 win, which locked both teams among a sea of 3-2 contenders.
In game two, Yao Know What I Ming continued their midseason blues, dropping their second straight to the Very Aggressive Guys, who look nearly invincible after five weeks of play. Yao Ming looked lost without their leading scorer on the court, as Kyle Perla (18.8 ppg) missed his first game of the season. In his absence only Dan Berland scored more than a single basket under the smothering team defense of the Very Aggressive Guys. Final Score: Very Aggressive Guys 63, Yao Know What I Ming 28.
In the 3pm game the Billies got back in the win column against Concrete. Mark Ward scored a game high 30 points in his return after missing last week’s game. The game took a turn for the worse as Concrete captain earned himself a one-game suspension after verbally abusing the referees following the loss. The episode served as a good warning for all players that any actions to verbally or physically intimidate other players or staff won’t be tolerated.
Next up the Toon Squad looked to get in the win column against a surging Healthy Buffalo team that welcomed the addition of court general Travis Craig to the team. Cody Hamilton (20 points) continued to lead the Toon Squad, but they couldn’t match the intensity that Healthy Buffalo brought to the court. Jon Zubin had a season high 16 points, while Lenny Frears had a team high 19 points, as Healthy Buffalo fought their way back into the playoff picture with the 82-61 win.
Team First looked to jumpstart their season against Mike Capuana and the U.H. in the 5pm game. Perry Davis (21 points) and James Capuana (17 points) picked up the slack in the absence of sharpshooter Will Castro who missed the game. The U.H. picked up the 57-40 win and joined the collection of teams in League B at 3-2.
Court Justice faced last place Niagara University following their week four loss to the Tune Squad. By halftime they had a commanding double digit lead, which they maintained throughout the game. Kevin Ford (26 points) and Moe Bailey (21 points) did most of the offensive damage for Court Justice, while Niagara University’s lone bright spot was the play of Harry Lambright, who scored a season-high 30 points in the loss.
In the 7pm game Jamel Gibbs and the Franchise Players got their second win of the season against the Superstars. It was a good team win as four players reached double figures. Tito Harris Jr. led all scorers with 22 points for the Superstars, but it was not enough as the Superstars loss leaves both teams at 2-3.
The Tune Squad was almost caught looking past United Hoops before nearly falling victim to one of the leagues hardest working teams. Every time it appeared that the Tune Squad was about to pull away, United Hoops came fighting back. Jacon Russell and Jason Mang led the Tune Squad with 16 points a piece as they squeaked out the ten point win to remain League A’s sole unbeaten team.
In the final game of Week 5 the Cleveland Beamers took on Norfolk n’ Chance. Norfolk N’ Chance played nearly the entire first half with only four players but managed to carry a 34-34 ballgame into the half. When their fifth man arrived, conventional wisdom suggested that they would then cruise to an easy win, but the Steamers refused to roll over. Andy Fanelli had his most inspired performance of the season scoring a season high 16 points and Edvin Ramulic chipped in his 20 points, but it was the heroic performance of Seth Clark that really took Healthy Buffalo analysts by surprise. With only seconds remaining Seth Clark delivered the dagger, driving to the basket against Dean Antalik and putting up the floater along the baseline, to deliver the big-time win for the Cleveland Beamers and keep them in the hunt in League A.
Week 7 Game to Watch
In the 4pm game, Norfolk N’ Chance gets another crack against the Tune Squad. Norfolk N’ Chance might be the last big obstacle to between the Tune Squad and the first ever undefeated team in Champions League history. In League B action, the Billies face a resurgent Healthy Buffalo squad as both teams look to improve their playoff positioning as we approach the homestretch of the season.