By Rahsaan Thomas
Commissioner Ishmael Freelon declared a draw in the Intramural League Basketball Championship after controversy over whether one of the games should count as a forfeit in the best of five series otherwise tied two-two.
Championship Intramural games are normally played on Sunday mornings, but the coaches of both teams agreed to play game four on Friday. That morning, with the Bay Area Ballers (BAB) up two games to one in the best of five series, only the coach and two BAB players showed up. The Franchise considered the nonappearance a forfeit.
After hearing several different versions about what happened that favored each team, Freelon said, “It’s done. Nobody wins.”
Prior to Freelon’s decision, The Franchise declared themselves the 2016 Intramural League Champions after winning what they called game five in overtime, 96-95.
“It’s over, we won,” said Franchise’s Oris “Pep” Williams. “Three-peat,” added his teammate Donte Smith.
Despite the Franchise winning the last two Intramural championships, they weren’t favored to make the finals this year after top players Anthony Ammons and Harry “ATL” Smith suited up for other teams.
Things also looked bleak for the Franchise when the BAB won the first two games of the series, needing only one more to clinch the title.
In game one, with 10 seconds left on the clock and the score tied, the Franchise had the ball. BAB pressed. Franchise Center Jason Robinson had the rock behind the three-point line and tried to pass out of a double team. BAB’s Tevin Fournette knocked the ball away. It landed in the hands of Paul Oliver, his 60-year old BAB teammate, who launched it down court to Mack Simekins for an easy slam and the 76-74 win.
The BAB won game two by a 105-81 landslide. Simekins led his team with 30 points and Fournette added 21.
A sweep looked evident for Game three with the BAB up by 20 points in the third quarter. Then Demond Lewis of the Franchise came to life. After coming into the final period scoreless, he ignited for 16 points, including four three pointers.
O. Williams made a critical three to tie the score at 79-79 with 43 seconds left in regulation.
Fournette responded going strong to the rack and was fouled. He made one free throw.
The Franchise’s Kenneth Dozier missed a three but Lewis rebounded it for the put back, giving Franchise an 81-80 edge.
Fournette answered on the other end with a layup, putting the BAB up 82-81.
With time running out, Dozier hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, for an 84-82 Franchise victory and necessitating a game four.
In the blown effort, Fournette nearly scored a triple double with 23 points, 22 rebounds and 9 assists, plus 2 steals. Six foot 10 Center Matt Simekins fouled out with less than 4 minutes left in the fourth, after scoring 20 points and snatching 12 boards.
For the Franchise, Center Jason Robinson had 11 points with 21 rebounds; Marvin Cosby scored 18 points and Donte Smith dropped 17 points with 17 boards in game three.
Game four on Oct. 9 found the BAB in the fourth quarter with only four players after Eli Hill was called over the institutional PA system to return to his building. That left Fournette, Simekins, Oliver and Donnelly Thompson, who played with a sprained ankle, against the full Franchise roster.
“I had four players, one with a bum ankle and they couldn’t knock us off in the fourth quarter,” said BAB Coach Darrell Williams.
The BAB battled through the fourth quarter. Though outnumbered they blocked shots and scored on the offensive end. With 10 seconds left on the clock, and the Franchise up 86-84, Fournette took the ball coast-to-coast and laid the ball up for the tie. He scored 35 in regulation.
In overtime, BAB took an 95-90 lead with 1:29 left, as the Franchise settled for three-point shot attempts that kept missing.
“It’s five on four, please tell me why we are shooting threes?” Smith asked his teammates during a timeout.
With 26 seconds left, the Franchise were down 95-96 when Oris Williams stole the ball. It ended up in Dozier’s hands who nailed a three, giving Franchise the 96-95 lead with :16 to go in overtime.
BAB’s Thompson had the ball at the top of the key for a wide-open three with time running out, but it bounced off the rim, leaving the Franchise on top.
Smith led the Franchise with 29 points, 22 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block. Dozier finished with 16 points followed by Montrell Vines with 15.
Fournette led all scorers with 39 points, 20 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Simekins added 27 points, 21 rebounds, 6 blocks and 2 assists. Oliver had 18 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal, while Thompson contributed 9 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists.