PLS Hawks are the new men’s league champions while Hotshots have retained the women’s title they won last year, after both teams came out victorious in their deciding matches.
Hawks beat Baya while Hotshots brushed aside Anse Etoile Stars on Saturday at the Palais des Sports.
It will surely take last season’s league champions Baya quite a while to digest and figure out their weekend defeat against rivals PLS Hawks.
It was a defeat which, apart from costing them the league title, raised several questions regarding the team’s concentration and accuracy throughout the match as well as the efficiency of their entourage.
Saturday’s decider started at a very high pace with both teams adopting a tight defence and being cautious in their offence strategies.
Herribert Derjacques unlocked the score count with a trey before Baya retaliated with baskets from Timmy Adam, Giovanni Laval and Robert Léon for an early 6-3 lead.
A free throw from Daniel Victor and another basket from veteran Jim Domingue tied the match at 6-6 before captain Steve Denis restored Baya’s lead – 8-6.
Disaster struck early for Baya when they lost Adam, who sprained his ankle after only three minutes of play in a collision with Hawks’ Daniel Victor.
Readjusting his game, coach Michel Malbrook sent Hendricks Denis on to replace Adam.
On the other hand, a well on form Victor was causing problems for Baya with his tight man-to-man defence and accurate passes.
Three more points from him and another two from Domingue tied the match at 13 apiece before Dave Roseline, Léon and Jean-Paul Camille gave Baya back the lead to end the first quarter on a 20-13 score.
In the second quarter, Hawks stepped up their game and penetrated their opponent’s defence, causing them to commit many fouls.
Early in the second period, Roseline committed his third personal foul, sending Romeo Victor to the free throw line. He scored and reduced Baya’s lead to only three points –20-17.
Both teams then scored several points with Baya in the lead until the fifth minute when Rodney Lozé levelled the score at 35-35, a situation which forced coach Malbrook to call for a time-out.
With 2.52 minutes left, a trey from Daniel Victor gave Hawks the lead –38-35 ¬– for the first time in the match.
Baskets from Camille and Hendricks Denis gave Baya back the lead while Barry Barron chipped in another for Hawks to finish the first half on 42-41 to Baya.
The third period was fiercely contested and the lead kept changing hands.
Baya, however, missed several opportunities to stretch their lead due to their inaccuracy on the free throw line. They converted only three out of 12 throws.
They received a double blow late in the quarter when they lost Robert Léon after he committed his fifth personal foul. He was followed less than a minute later by Hendricks Denis.
Hawks also lost two players in that quarter. Daniel Victor was sent off for his fifth foul while Rodney Lozé was ejected from the match after committing his second unsporting foul.
A free throw from captain Denis gave Baya a slight 65-64 lead at the end of the third period.
The fourth quarter kept the spectators on the edge of their seats. Conscious that they had to outscore Baya by a minimum of five points if they were to win the league title, Hawks sent in all their resources.
Three treys from Barron brought the score to 90-85, keeping Hawks within range of grabbing the league title. But baskets from Nigel Annette, Laval and Roseline closed to the gap to two points –90-88.
With 16 seconds left and Baya already champions, Nigel Annette did something he will not forget in a long time.
Instead of running down the clock, he scored a basket to tie the game and rejuvenated Hawks.
To everybody’s surprise, the entire Baya entourage invaded the court in joy only to realise later that they had thrown away their title.
The main question being asked at the time was whether the Baya players and entire entourage were aware of their opponents’ five-point handicap. If yes, why did they not stop Annette from scoring the basket?
Extra time was given and a more determined Hawks scored 14 points compared to only eight for Baya.
With the 104-98 final score, PLS Hawks regained their champions’ status lost to Baya last season.
Barron was Hawks’ leading scorer with 29 points while Giovanni Laval was Baya’s top scorer with 20.
In the women’s match, Anse Boileau-based Hotshots dominated Anse Etoile Stars to comfortably defend their title.
After dominating the first and second quarters 20-14 and 13-7, Hotshots, who had Norcy Agathine replacing coach Phillip Arissol, kept the pressure on their opponents for a comfortable 55-33 lead at the end of the third quarter.
In the last period, they let down their guard, allowing Stars to bounce back and close the gap.
But by then, the damage had already been done as they lost 66-55.
Jenitta scored 24 points –including six treys – to lead Hotshots’ scoring, while with 14 points, captain Simone Malbrook was Stars’ top scorer.