In what was one of the tightest games in the Hoop of Life Community Basketball League so far, forward Stephen Lewis scored an amazing consecutive ten last free throws to guarantee Laventille an unimaginable win over Maloney on their St Barbs' home court on Tuesday night.
Maloney who took the first of the two home-and-away games by a 29-point margin (95-66) in the Elite Eight, were favoured to bring Laventille to their knees with such a total, Laventille having to win by 30 points to qualify for the semi-finals. But Maloney failed to deliver, needing only to hold on to a four-point aggregate advantage in the last three minutes.
A huge crowd, averaging some 350 chanting supporters from both teams, witnessed a nail-biting finish to see Laventille close the deficit in the final minute to win the game 96-63.
Maloney began the game scoring eight points before Laventille were able to get a point on the scoreboard. Two bus-loads of Maloney fans streamed onto the court and everyone thought that was it for the boys from the Hill.
But Sheldon Christian decided to turn on the heat to the strains of a Laventille rhythm section and at the end of the first quarter, the score was 23-13 in Laventille's favour.
Eight consecutive turnovers saw Maloney take over the reins in the second quarter and midway through the quarter the score read 34 each. Then it was Laventille again, getting some unfettered fast breaks to give them an 11-point lead at the end of the first half. The score was now 36-35 with Laventille on top.
The third quarter saw a magical change in the game and Laventille took no prisoners as they exhibited blocks, turnovers, steals and scored some three-pointers to change the face of the game. A 62-39 score card was greeted by thunderous applause to iron and steel at the end of the third quarter. This still meant, however, that Laventille needed to take a seven-point lead to ensure they eliminated their eastern opponents to get into the next stage.
In the last quarter, the battle saw five Maloney players fouling out of the game, with two Laventille defenders following suit and the scoring went 34 to Laventille, 24 to Maloney at the final whistle.
In the other fixture southerners La Romaine trounced Cocorite 104-89. For the second time La Romaine reached triple figures against the western side, having beaten them 121-69 on their home court last Sunday.