Championship Game Recap: #4 REBELS vs #3 QUIET STORM
After two well played, but uneventful SEMI-FINAL GAMES in which the #1 and #2 seeds were disposed of with relative ease, the 2010-11 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME started to look like a rout as well by halftime, but the fans that stuck around for the second half were treated to one of the BEST AABL FINALS GAMES EVER as the #4 Rebels battled it out with #3 Quiet Storm.
The 2010-11 Finals game was a Week 2 rematch in which Quiet Storm trounced the Rebels 69-45. QS was intent on repeating that outcome, as they got off to a scorching start thanks to Jimmy Harrison who had been their most consistent and explosive offensive producer throughout the season– he finished this one with 23 pts (5 threes), 3 rebs, 1 ast, 2 stls. After a few early consecutive threes by Harrison and some tough play shown in the paint and on the defensive end, Quiet looked well on their way to duplicating their Week 2 massacre of the Rebels. QS’s Kaleo Kina (20 pts, 2 threes, 2/3 FTs, 8 asts, 4 rebs, 1 stl) continued to be an excellent playmaker for QS in the playoffs–averaging 7.3 apg in 3 playoff games– as he was able to break down the defense and manage/control the Storm uptempo style. The two-time AABL Champions were able to rack up a resounding 45-32 lead in the first half as Quiet Storm played their classic brand of high pressure basketball to perfection.
After an explosive first half in which they were on pace to score 90 pts, Quiet Storm stunned a few people in the stands as they decided to slow their attack, air out the clock and force the Rebels to step up their D. The Rebels were eager to step up to the challenge, capitalizing on forced turnovers as Quiet Storm’s early ‘four corners’ tactic failed. Quiet Storm was able to re-adjust as they played through the Rebels’ strong run and got back to attack mode basketball. But with the Rebels down 9 points with less than 10 minutes to play, Rebels got the momentum boost they needed as their workhorse and backbone in the middle, Herschel Mack, came crashing down on the rim with a two-handed, follow-up rebound dunk over the QS opposing center that rattled the rim and got everyone out of their seats. This big-time adrenaline shot was the biggest tide turning bucket of the season and the only 2 pts for Mack in the game– with 10 rebs, 3 asts, 2 stls. To pile on the emotion for the Rebs and the fans, Tony Leary(16 pts, 6/10 FTs, 3 asts, 2 rebs, 2 blks, 1 stl)–usually known for his scoring ability– re-vitalized the Rebels defense immediately by emphatically sending a QS three point attempt deep into the stands. After this sequence of events, Rebels got hot in a hurry with Roland Tilar (who may be the most efficient scorer in the league) leading the charge with 32 pts (6 threes, 8/8 FTs), 4 rebs, 1 ast, 1 stl. With just 2 minutes left in regulation, the two teams put on quite a show as they battled it out bucket for bucket while playing championship caliber basketball– taking care of the rock and playing aggressive foul-free defense. Rebels’ Joe Marlowe was a high scoring point guard in the regular season, but in the playoffs he was the team general, pacesetter and playmaker (averaging 5.0 apg in 3 playoff games). He scored his biggest buckets in the final minute to help put the Rebels up 67-65 and finish with 8 pts (1 three, 1/2 FTs), 5 asts for the game. With just under 30 seconds left on the clock, Quiet Storm decided not to use any of their remaining timeouts to set up a play. They managed to take a few good but unsuccessful shots at the basket followed by a couple of offensive rebounds. A closing second scramble caused a car wreck collision which floored Harrison and Mack while other players hustled to get possession of the ball. After the smoke cleared, the Rebels were able to prevent a Quiet Storm comeback and walk off the court as the 2010-11 AABL Champions.
After having some tough losing seasons throughout their AABL existence, the Rebels have improved steadily as players, teammates and students of the game. After 3 Final Four Appearances, they were able to clinch the AABL CUP their first time to the Finals. FD