In sports, the teams that end up competing for a championship are often not the ones with the best record. They’re not the ones who were front-runners going into the season. No, championship teams are usually the ones who peak at the right time. Take the recent Super Bowl champion Giants for example. They barely made the playoffs with a record of 9-7 but were playing their best football at the end of the season. As we quickly approach the end of the Wharton Warrior Basketball League, the key question is: who is peaking now? The answer might surprise you…
Animal Spirits 62, The Jimmers 61
Three seconds left on the clock, down by three, and taking the ball out underneath their opponent’s basket. It seemed safe to say that the Spirits had let another lead and potential win slip out of their hands. But Jeff “Buzzer-Beater” Bilsky had other plans. He caught a perfect inbounds pass from Rich Martin at half court, took two dribbles, pump-faked, and banked in a rainbow three over the outstretched arms of two defenders to win it at the buzzer. It was the kind of play that can turn around a season.
From the very beginning of the game, Bilsky’s Animal Spirits looked like a different team than their 2-7 record indicated. They were moving the ball on offensive, penetrating, and knocking down shots with ease. It was the type of offensive efficiency we hadn’t seen out of this team since Week 1 when they destroyed the Ankle Breakers by 45 points. But this time, the Spirits brought that effectiveness to both ends of the court, getting in passing lanes, pressuring ball handlers, and converting turnovers into fast break baskets. The result was a 20-point lead early in the second half.
But then the old Spirits emerged. Poor defense and questionable shot selection opened the door, and the Jimmers burst through it. Displaying an undying will to compete, Brigham Wilson put up a season high 36 points while creating open shots for his Jimmer teammates as they crawled back into the game. With the Jimmers just three points behind, the Spirits’ woes at the free throw line began. Martin, who led the Spirits with 23 points, missed the front end of two consecutive 1-and-1’s, while Bilsky missed the front end of another. As the Jimmers took the lead, the game looked all but over. But the Spirits turned adversity into opportunity with Bilsky’s half court heroics and set the foundation for a late season run. Watch out for this team in the weeks to come.
Beast Mode Ballers 60, Fighting Harbaughs 56 (OT)
As if a buzzer beater was not enough to make Tuesday night exciting, the Beast Mode Ballers and Fighting Harbaughs provided some overtime action to spice things up. Although the Harbaughs built an early double-digit lead, the Ballers slowly chipped away at it behind the gutsy defensive efforts of Amish Tolia and “Nasty” Nick Liveris. With six seconds left, The Ballers found themselves down by only three points and wisely put the ball in the hands of George “Oh No He Didn’t” O’Garro. With time winding down, O’Garro found an inch of space and knocked down a game-tying three to send things into overtime.
In the first play of overtime, Nate Abebe knocked down another huge three-pointer that immediately set the tone. From there the Ballers cruised to victory, knocking the Harbaughs out of first place for the first time all season. O’Garro had 24 points in the winning effort.
Ankle Breakers 79, Los Verdugos 74
The Ankle Breakers and Los Verdugos scored… a lot. If you squinted really hard, you would have thought you were watching the OKC Thunder play the GS Warriors! The Ankle Breakers pulled off the upset against a short-handed Los Verdugos team in this high scoring match-up. Chris Oosterhaus aka Mickey Rourke continued to propel the Breakers, who are 2-1 since his return. He had only 12 points, but frustrated Los Verdugos inside and created second chance opportunities for his teammates. The result was season highs for Horace Flournoy (17 pts) and Derek Sutta (16 pts) and another high point total for Bahaa Nahas (28 pts).
Los Verdugos were missing slashing point guard Matt Bradley and streaky inside man Marc Pearson, but got stellar performances from leader Zeeshan Hyder, who had a season high 36 points, and Ross Glasser, who added 20. In the end, it wasn’t enough, as the Breakers continued to show signs of life late in the season.
Dreamliners 48, Take My Talents 42
Take My Talents came into this game riding the high from last week’s victory over the then first ranked Fighting Harbaughs. And when they saw that The Dreamliners’ top player, Jeff Schifner, would miss this week’s game, they all but counted anther tally in the win column. What they didn’t count on was an inspired performance from Aaron Szekel. Szekel used his length and versatility to score all over the court. The Dreamliners rallied around him and put forth a balanced attack that was enough to cool the red hot Take My Talents.