Mar 29, 2009 Walt Shepperd Uncategorized
The BBBL acronym on the front of game jerseys for the over-40 Baby Boomers Basketball League could easily add another B, for bonding. Since November, the newly renovated gym at the Southwest Community Center has served as Reunion Hall for residents, predominantly from the communities of color, who hung out with or competed against each other on playgrounds or high school courts back in the day. Now, however, given work and family requisites, many probably only see each other Sundays at the BBBL.
This season play has been competitive and amicable, with enough blowouts to herald who would have the power for the championship play-offs, actually making filling in the two teams in the final bracket a relatively safe prediction. Indeed, the league’s top two finishers, Syracuse O’ Gees and Ballard Construction, both 13-1, after first round tournament byes, found themselves slated last Sunday against the two with the next best records, Next Level and B&B Lounge, both 9-5. Naturally, with coin flips and selection criteria, not everyone was happy.
“The Green team got robbed,” called out A. Murphy, whose International finished as one of three teams at 4-10 hoping for the sixth tourney birth in the eight team league. “Those other two split, and what with one swept the other . . . we should have been in the play-offs.” The lament fell on few ears, as the BBBL’s semi-final Sunday started way slow. So slow, that when the City Eagle coverage team arrived less than an hour before tip-off, the front and back doors at SWCC were locked, both lobbies silently dark.
The coverage team had left for the assignment at NCAA halftime with SU up relatively comfortable at 41-32. After a patient wait at the SWCC front door, and a brisk block’s walk to the convenience store for coffee, it began to sink in. Priorities. A second visit to the back door found a way in and an ironic twist. The SWCC television set was strangely unresponsive, and early arrivals were keeping in touch with the SU game through a running report on a cell phone.
The Orange were up 53-41 with 14:00 left, and discussion turned to the results of J-D’s Section III championship game at Glens Fall–they won–and their prospects for next year.
Children of the early arrivals took over the lobby’s foosball tables as the gym was opened for half a dozen players to shoot around, talk strategy or just catch up since last week. Seven Next Level players had filtered in to warm-up before O’ Gees’ Carlos Williams began the most serious stretching regimen of the day, smiling as opponents affectionately mocked his efforts. O’ Gees’ Earl Ford entered with a sprint the length of the gym, but his attempts at traditional stretching faced constant interruption from greetings by spectators and opponents.
At 2 p.m. the JA Jams sound system sets up at courtside, announcing SU up 70-61. “We split with Pony and them during the season,” Ford muses on this team’s prospects if O’ Gees face Ballard Construction in the finals. This year Ballard has more often been referred to as Howard and them, with props to the periodic appearances of former SU standout Howard Triche in their lineup. Jams is jammin’ as Jesse Brantley turns on the electronic scoreboard and begins listing players in the scorebook. His cell phone rings. SU is up nine with 7:30 to go.
By the time the referees arrive word has spread that SU won by 11, and the BBBL game can begin. Next Level jumps out to a 10-4 lead, but the O’ Gees quickly catch up. O’ Gees call timeout, ahead 21-20 with 7:12 left in the half “to get our heads straight,” after which neither team scores for five minutes. Trading baskets in the second half, the game is fast and physical, with tempers flaring after O’ Gees build a ten point lead. Approaching the 56-=39 final, children in the back row of seats begin to chant “It’s all over.”
The chant turns to “Let’s go orange,” the color Ballard Construction carries onto the floor, without Howard. His nephew, SU recruit Brandon had played for J-D the night before in Glens Falls, one teammate observed, as others suggested he may have had to work that day. They didn’t need him, however, jumping out to a 15-5 lead with long bombs by Julius Anderson, and coasting to a 60-43 victory. Even with comfortable leads, Ballard’s Pony Bullock dives on the floor after loose balls. He will need the same intensity today, Sunday the 29th at 3:15 p.m. at SWCC, when his team goes for the gold against O’ Gees, with our without Howard.
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