The semi finals line up for the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam has been settled following the last round of regular season games. Youthtown Clique moved to 8 and 4 in overcoming Flava Flyers (5-7) and in something of an upset The Birdmen (3-9) beat The Block City Brawlers (8-4). The Clique and The Brawlers finished with identical win/loss records and 2-2 head to head – The Clique securing top seeding on points differential.
The Brawlers were without the experienced Darryl Cartwright but with 16 first half points from Houston O’Riley and a dozen from Jack Salt they shaded the period 59-58. The Birdmen flew into the lead in the third stanza on the back of 11 points apiece in the period from guards Nash Oh and Carl Buck.
The Brawlers made a strong opening to the final quarter, Kael Tarawa and Manawatu Jets new recruit Alonzo Burton converting triples to take their team to within a single point 91-92 with 6:10 left on the clock. The Birdmen had given up handy fourth quarter leads on a few occasions in the earlier rounds but this time they were not as charitable. Chris Fahrensohn, Johnny Fesolai and Nash Oh all made scoring contributions in the closing minutes to steer The Birdmen to a deserved win.
The Birdmen 111 (Buck 37, Fahrensohn 25, Oh 19, Fesolai 19pts/14 rebounds)
The Block City Brawlers 103 (Salt 24pts/13 rebounds, O’Riley 21, Paul Henare 20, Burton 14).
The Youthtown Clique without Shea Ili, on duty for NZ Maori at the Oceania Pacific Champs and Lindsay Tait (broken wrist) drafted a couple of new players into their squad. Marco Alexander and Rosmini College swingman Theo Johnson made their first appearances against Flava Flyers.
The Clique edged the opening quarter 19-17 increasing their advantage to 51-39 at half time – 20 points from Duane Bailey and 10 from Jahlal Ibrahim doing most of the damage. The Flyers had the best of the third period outscoring the Clique 34-29, courtesy of major contributions from Hayden Allen, Matt Lacey and Jarrod Kenny. The Flyers continued to eat into the Clique lead in the final period and when Jonathan Southey gave up an unsportsmanlike foul allowing Allen to narrow the margin to 89-85, a come from behind victory looked possible. However the experienced trio of Southey, Ibrahim and Robson Tavita dominated the boards in the closing minutes enabling Youthtown Clique to close out the win.
Youthtown Clique 102 (Bailey 31, Ibrahim 23, Tavita 17, Southey 13)
Flava Flyers 95 (Allen 28, Kenny 18, Lacey 15, Nick Barrow 8)
The semi final line up is Youthtown Clique v The Birdmen and Block City Brawlers v Flava Flyers, both games to be played at Youthtown next Tuesday, December 3rd. The winning teams will progress to the Final on Saturday December 7th.