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Goliath falls. Admirals upset Kentucky 112-104 and return to PBL Championship

Tom O’Neill

Goliath falls. Admirals upset Kentucky 112-104 and return to PBL Championship

By Tom O’Neill

Owensboro, KY.  Goliath has fallen. Lake Michigan upset the Kentucky Mavericks on their home court 112-104, Saturday, putting the Admirals back in the PBL Championship for the second straight year as Midwest Champions.

            The Mavericks were 19-1 heading into the Midwest title game, blowing away opponents by almost 24 points a game. Their only loss came against last year’s PBL Champion Rochester RazorSharks, 105-99, on the road. The loss ended a five-year streak of 103 straight wins and four ABL titles.

 Kentucky had beaten Lake Michigan (10-8) four times before, but the Admirals came within six points, 95-89, on their last visit to Owensboro. The Mavericks hadn’t lost a home game in five years.

“This was one of the biggest wins of my PBL career,” Lake Michigan Coach Ace Jackson said. “No one believed we could pull it off but ourselves. We went in there with a nothing to lose attitude.”

            Lake Michigan jumped out to 34-28 first quarter lead behind the hot hand of Nicholas Waddell, scoring 16. “Nick was huge,” Jackson said. He was the spark from the beginning. When he started hitting jump shots, it opened up the inside.”

 Kentucky answered in the second quarter, tying the game at 36 with 9:31 left. The Mavericks would extend the lead to eight as Kentucky guard P.J. Couisnard caught fire, hitting five three-pointers on his way to 22 points at the half. Lake Michigan climbed back to within two, 60-58 at halftime, Waddell being held scoreless spending time on the bench with three fouls.

            “We withstood the onset. We knew if we stayed close into the fourth quarter we would have a good chance of winning“Jackson explained.

            Kentucky opened the third quarter with a 13-6 run and would push their lead to 11 points as the quarter neared its end. Kareem Story dropped two at the line and Waddell scored back to back baskets and the Admirals trailed 88-82.

            Unlike the past four meetings, the Admirals would not go away. Anthony Spencer nailed two three-pointers along with four baskets and a free throw. Waddell continued his assault inside with seven more points.

            Spencer’s three-pointer at 7:45 put the Admirals up 95-94 and the lead went back and forth for the next three minutes.

Kentucky was rattled as numerous three-point attempts failed. Spencer hit another three-pointer then added two more buckets before the Mavericks would score two at the foul, trailing 104-99.  Waddell added four points from the field, Rob Woodsen and Storey two each from the line to seal the win.

Jackson said because the Admirals continued to attack, the Mavericks were forced to leave in their starters. “We wore them down. “  In previous meetings with Kentucky it was the opposite when the fourth quarter arrived.

Waddell finished with 30 points and 15 rebounds. Spencer had 23 points followed by Stan Simpson (15), Odgra Bobo (13) and Woodson (11). The Admirals won the board game 55-43 while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 81 percent at the foul line, hitting 34 of 42.

Couisnard scored 30 points for Kentucky and Anthony Jackson 15. The Mavericks shot 41.7 percent from the field and 62.2 percent from the line, hitting 23 of 37.

The Admirals will face Rochester (19-2) for the championship. The RazorSharks defeated Buffalo 125-88, Sunday in Rochester. The best of three series begins here Thursday at Michigan Lutheran High School at 7:30 PM.  The series shifts to Rochester (NY) for games two and three April 23 and 24th.

Lake Michigan is seeking revenge in a rematch of last year’s finals. The RazorSharks won 2-0. “It’s going to be a good one,” according to Jackson. “Kentucky and Rochester are pretty much the same. We won’t be making a whole lot of changes but will have to adjust to their press and control the guards.”

Former Admiral Nate Barfield plays for Rochester. “It will be great to see Nate, but we know his style of play. Their inside presence will be (Dele) Coker and guards (Corey) Almond and (Jerry) Crouch.” Jackson noted.




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