FANWOOD/SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- There’s a reason it’s the month where mayhem reigns. In March, you have to come to expect the unexpected. After 14 weeks of intense competition, and 62 games, the season-long battle for the Fanwood-Scotch Plains “Y” Men’s 30+ Basketball League title has been whittled down to two survivors. And, as the Final Four dust settles, to the shock of many, one of the championship contenders will not be the presumptive favorite #1 seed. Ohhhhh, stop the Madness!
Semifinal Game #1
Winning team: No Conscience (51)
Losing team: Get Buckets (49)
No. 1 is done. Who would have thunk it?
Crafty guard Gregg Carder’s baseline drive and patented left-handed reverse layup connected with two seconds remaining on the clock, giving #4 seed No Conscience an improbable 51-49 victory over the previously once-beaten, top-seed Get Buckets. Carder’s bucket, which just eluded the outstretched arms of G.B. defender Jamal Berry, punctuated a wild final 7:05 of the second half, which saw No Con outscore its opposition 16-3.
Buckets Capt. Justin Fiory (15 pts) had provided his squad with a 46-35 advantage with just over seven minutes left in stanza two, when he drained the fourth of his five 3-pointers. Little could anyone have imagined that the high-octane group would manage just one more basket the rest of the way.
Back-to-back treys by Stephen Murray (14 pts) and Captain Chris Mattina (9 pts) jump-started NC onto its comeback trail, cutting its deficit to 46-41. A Murray left-block banker, a free throw by Carder, and a tear-drop by Murray in the lane tied things, 46-46, at the two-minute warning. The Buckets’ lone tally in that fateful last 7:05 was a Fiory “I called bank” triple with 46 ticks to play in the contest, which knotted the affair at 49-49. No Con then held the ball for one shot, setting up Carder’s game-winning heroics. Carder finished with 15 pts, while vets Jason Holley and Tim Gray each chipped in 6. Berry was his outstanding, MVP-like self, notching 24 pts in a losing cause.
Semifinal Game #2
Winning team: Slamma Jamma (70)
Losing team: Falcons (51)
They’re young, they’re brash, and they are headed to the CHIP. No. 3 seed Slamma Jamma, carried by their big and bad threesome of Greg Josephsen (20 pts, 7 rebs), Gavin Ford (19 pts, 10 boards), and Rich Cobbinah (17 & 8), had too much firepower for the No. 7 seed Falcons, and will face No Conscience for FSPY supremacy. Slam Jam, steered by first-year Captain Tom St. John, enjoyed a 34-23 margin after the first 20 minutes, and allowed the Falcs to get no closer than 8 points following the intermission.
Three Dirty Birds reached double figures in defeat – Capt. Jason Shann (18), standout rookie Clay Torres (16), and point-man Eljay Aguillo (10).
The Championship game will take place on Sunday, March 26, as No. 4 No Conscience takes on No. 3 Slamma Jamma at 10:30 a.m.
The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. For information on membership or programs, or to request a schedule of classes, please call the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA at (908) 889-8880 or visit www.fspymca.org. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.