Let the Battle Begin for PBL Championship
Rochester, NY- The Rochester Razorsharks will host the Indianapolis Diesels this Sunday April 6 for game 1 of the 2014 Premier Basketball League championship series.
Rochester (17-1) is playing in their 7th consecutive PBL championship series and Indianapolis (10-5) will be playing for the league title for the first time in franchise history. These two franchises have never played each other as members of the PBL.
Rochester was coming off two consecutive finals losses heading into this season and even though Razorsharks head coach Lawrence Moten was a newcomer this year, he has been preaching a return to championship form for the entire organization since the very first day of training camp. Moten routinely would yell to his team throughout the year that everything they were doing was going to help them win a championship and he was settling for nothing else.
Now that the moment is finally here, coach Moten was asked what his final message was to his team, “We are here now, we understand our mission, we’ve had the same mission from day one of training camp until today. We have to be prepared for anything, we still haven’t gotten over that final hump but we are so close. At the end of the day, we are in control of our own destiny, if we just go out and play how we have been playing during this winning streak we should be victorious”.
To keep that 16-game winning streak going the ‘Sharks are going to have to deal with a very tough Diesels team that features two of the best scorers in the PBL in guard John Hart and forward Jermaine Dearman.
Rochester and Indianapolis have the 3rd and 4th scoring defense in the PBL respectively so one would expect a defensive battle to determine the championship this season. But Rochester also brings in the number one scoring offense in the PBL to the series and the ‘Sharks actually average 17.4 more points per game than the Diesels.
“We know they are a good defensive team, we know we can be dominating on defense when we really focus, but I think the key for us is going to be using our depth and speed and athleticism to attack in the full-court at all times,” said Razorsharks guard Reggie Stallings.
That number one offense the ‘Sharks will need to be running smoothly if the team looks to avoid being the league runner up for a 3rd consecutive season.
“I’m excited for the fans, I’m excited for the players especially, I just want to get the games underway because I have been solely focused on bringing another championship banner to Rochester since my first day with the team”, coach Moten said.
Game one will be in Rochester this Sunday April 6 at 2:00 p.m. at the Blue Cross Arena. The PBL will announce the remaining schedule of the finals by tomorrow (April 5).
Nail Biter in Rochester Makes for Great Championship Start
Rochester, NY- The 2014 Premier Basketball League Championship Series tipped off today at the Blue Cross Arena as the Rochester Razorsharks squeaked by with a one point victory over the visiting Indianapolis Diesels.
With two of the top four defenses in the PBL playing, the game started very slowly for both team’s offenses. At the halfway point in the first quarter Rochester found themselves trailing 9-13 before Razorsharks head coach Lawrence Moten put in a totally new five man line-up.
The change was just what Rochester needed as reserve forwards Louie McCroskey and Aaron Williams helped lead Rochester on a 14-3 run to end the first quarter to give Rochester an early 25-18 lead. McCroskey had five straight points after checking in.
The second quarter was one of runs, as Rochester went on a 12-3 run midway through the quarter to give themselves a 45-30 lead. Ayodele Coker had 6 points during that run for Rochester and Darren Moore chipped in 4 points.
The Diesels were not going to let this one get away from them in the first half, as they composed themselves and eventually went on a 16-7 run to end the quarter to cut Rochester’s lead to six points, 52-46. Diesels guard Harry Marshall hit three jump shots in the run and had 8 points in a two minute span.
Williams had 12 points at the half for Rochester and Marshall led Indianapolis with 13.
The third quarter saw a back and forth battle as neither team could take control of the game offensively. Each team’s physical defense was a deterrent to attacking the rim and consequently each team took a lot of and missed a lot of long range jump shots.
By the end of the period Rochester’s lead was cut to just two points after the Diesels finished off a 32-8 run, with the score 76-74 in Rochester’s favor.
The final quarter was more of the same as these two teams put everything on the line to get that all important game one victory.
Jerice Crouch was huge for Rochester in the 3rd and 4th quarter, particularly during one stretch in which Crouch scored 15 of Rochester’s 19 points in the end of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth quarter.
The final 3:30 of the game saw neither team hold a lead of over four points and after each team traded buckets for a few possessions, Rochester found themselves up one point with a little under a minute left in the game.
That’s when the Diesel’s Noah Douglas tipped in a three point miss and gave the Diesels a 99-98 lead with 40 seconds left in the game.
After each team turned the ball over in consecutive possessions Rochester’s Dane Miller was fouled with 4.4 seconds left and had the opportunity to give his time the lead or send the game to overtime.
Miller missed the first and the second attempt but a poor box out by the Diesels let Rochester’s Chaz Crawford get the inside position to tip-in the miss and give Rochester the lead and the victory, 100-99.
Indianapolis’ head coach Aaron Hogg was asked about the tough loss today, “We battled all night long, we just came up one free throw box out from winning tonight. I got to take the blame for that, I could have done something different. I’m proud of my team, they fought hard, that’s all I can ask of them, they depend on me to make better decisions than the ones I made”.
No one in attendance would blame coach Hogg whose team played Rochester as well as any opponent has this entire season.
Razorsharks guard Jerice Crouch was asked about taking over the game offensively late in the second half for Rochester, “Tonight was intense, we haven’t had one of those in a while. It was much needed for us as a team to show our composure to fight back in a game like this. I was just taking what the Diesels were giving me. I felt the team needed me to be more aggressive and I felt the Diesels were confused on how to defend me on the pick and roll so I just tried to take advantage of that”.
The man of the night, Crawford, was asked about that game winning play, “I knew if Dane missed I had to get that rebound and I knew I was going to get that rebound if he missed. My man was face guarding me on the box out and I knew I could get a hand on it and that’s all I ended up needing. I knew it was going in as soon as I touched it and I ran back on defense to secure the win.”
Jermaine Dearman led the way for Indianapolis with 21 points and 10 rebounds, John Hart chipped in 20 points and eight rebounds as well.
Crouch led Rochester with 19 points and was helped by Crawford’s 12 points and seven rebounds. Williams had 16 points on 6-8 shooting for Rochester.
Game two is Friday, April 11, in Indianapolis as the Razorsharks look to bring the championship trophy back to Rochester after losing in the PBL finals the past two seasons.
Check out the last 50 seconds of the back-and-forth game one finale! Click here to see the game winner!
It's Not Over Yet In PBL Championship Series
By Nathan Pace
Indianapolis, IN- Game 2 of the PBL Championship series is set for Friday night in Indianapolis with the home team facing elimination.
The Diesels are trying to put Sunday’s tough 100-99 loss in game 1 to the Razorsharks behind them and force a deciding game 3 on Monday.
The Diesels had a 99-98 lead late in Game 1 until a foul call put Rochester at the line for two shots. The Razorsharks missed both free throws but converted the rebound to win the game.
Indianapolis had a limited roster in Game 1 but remained competitive thanks to five players scoring in double-digit figures. Guard John Hart and forward Jermaine Dearman led the Diesels with over 20 points each.
Rochester entered the championship as winners of the East Division at 17-1. Indianapolis represents the Midwest with a 10-5 record on the year.
Friday’s game will be the first time the Diesels have played at Howe Community and it couldn’t have come at a more pivotal time. Indianapolis played the 2014 season at the Indy South Sports Academy but the venue was not available for Friday night.
Tip-off begins at 7:05 p.m.