Buffalo, NY- After a grueling eight weeks of regular season action, the quarterfinals, All-Star game, semis and finals, we have officially crowned our Champions League victors. For the second season in a row, we have played both the semis and finals for both divisions on the same day. The condensed format makes for an intense day of hoops, complete with six action packed games of hoops.
White Men Can’t Jump sent the Billies home packing despite a dominant performance by big-man Frank Pieri (21 points) for the Billies. Joey Catalano (19 points) hit a number of big shots down the stretch and the team as a whole played solid defense to advance to the semifinals. In the 2pm game the Very Aggressive Guys dismantled the Fastbreakers, quickly jumping off to a 16-4 lead. The Fastbreakers struggled to get their offense rolling and were unable to capitalize on their size advantage inside. As is the norm with the Very Aggressive Guys it was a team effort, with swarming, aggressive defense and transition points led by Ben Walkow (14 points) and Mike Bennett (12 points). The Very Aggressive Guys pulled out the 47-38 win to advance to the Championship game against White Men Can’t Jump.
In the first taste of League A action of the day, the Tune Squad faced off against the Superstars, who were led by Tito Harris who was coming off his first All-Star game the previous week. While the Tune Squad has a times come off lackadaisical in first half play, they were focused and officially in playoff mode this week. They jumped off to a 59-24 halftime lead behind a strong offensive performance by Jay Mang who scored 22 of his 24 points in the opening half. From their they never looked back, cruising to a 91-60 win and trip to the finals.
In the final semis matchup of the day Court Justice battled the Cleveland Beamers. Court Justice jumped off to a quick lead behind the fast paced offensive attack led by Jeff Curry (17 points) and Ramone Alls (17 points). To make matters worse, the Beamers leading scorer Edvin Ramulic went down with a bruised knee and a damaged psyche as his teammates failed to live up to his expectations. The injuries prevented him from playing in the second half, leaving the Beamers aloft at sea without a sail. In Ramulic’s absence the Beamers fought onward, but were unable to slow down the veteran Court Justice squad who would pick up the 80-63 win and advance to the finals against the Tune Squad.
The League B matchup was a classic Healthy Buffalo battle between two of the leagues most storied franchises, rich with history and full of colorful characters. The subplots were heavy in this one as WMCJ sharpshooter Joey Catalano rushed to find a substitute coach to fill his shoes for his St. Paul’s team just moments before tipoff. For Frankie Musso, this game represented the culminations of many seasons of hard work and dedication, with everything on the line, the legacy of the White Men Can’t Jump franchise wrapped up in a single game. For the Very Aggressive Guys it was another chance to show that when united with Mike Bennett, they have a team built to dominate the division for years to come.
Frankie Musso poured it all out in for the finale, scoring a game high 22 points as he tried to will his squad to victory, but the Very Aggressive Guys were just too much. As their smothering defense carried them to yet another dramatic championship victory in a classic matchup that is sure to garner hundreds of YouTube views for years to come.
And for the final game of Season 9, the first seeded Tune Squad squared off against Champions League royalty Court Justice. Could Court Justice pull off the upset and turn the Tune Squad into the 2007 Patriots or would the Tune Squad complete their historic run and become not only the first team to ever go through the Champions League regular season undefeated, but cap it off with Championship a la the 1972 Dolphins? It looked like they were doomed early as they started the game with only four players as Jay Mang was MIA at tipoff and didn’t get laced up and into the game until the closing minutes of the first half. But Court Justice barely capitalized on his absence taking only a six point lead into the half. In the second half the Tune Squad tightened up behind the thrilling play of Justin Andreozzi and company and pulled out the 79-77 victory to capture the title. It was a fitting end to an excellent season for the Tune Squad who seem poised to repeat in Season 10. Can anyone stop the Tune Squad?