It was a sunny Friday evening as Week 4 of Crown League was underway at Ryerson’s Kerr Hall. For four teams, a shot at a championship was at stake as it was the semi-finals.
And man, was it ever a great night for those in attendance. Both semi-final games, along with the exhibition game, went right down to the wire.
SEMIFINAL #1: M.A.D.E vs. ACE
After losing to ACE in the championship game last year, M.A.D.E wanted to get that same opportunity again but standing in the way was ACE again.
However, this time, the result was the opposite.
There will be a new champion for this year’s Crown League as Junior Cadougan’s fade away triple with 51 seconds left proved to be the game winner as M.A.D.E beat ACE in an overtime thriller, 85-84, in front of a jam packed crowd. The game lived up to its billing as there were 52 lead changes in total.
ACE had a chance to win the game with 0.4 seconds left but an errant inbounds pass sealed their fate.
Cadougan ended up finishing with 13 points and a game high four steals. Dyshawn Pierre was red hot throughout the game, leading M.A.D.E with 23 points on seven triples. Jehvon Shepherd finished with 15 points before fouling out.
The game would not have gone to overtime without Jermaine Anderson’s performance in the clutch. The southpaw guard finished with 20 points, with 16 of them coming in the second half and overtime. Anderson’s controversial put back layup at the buzzer sent the game into overtime and at one point, he scored 11 straight points for M.A.D.E.
“If it weren’t for him (Anderson), I’d doubt we’d win that game,” Pierre said. “Hell of a player.”
ACE, however, went down swinging as Warren Ward finished with a game high 25 points, hitting critical baskets down the stretch. Kaza Keane had 17 points with a game high five assists and two steals.
Toronto Raptor Pascal Siakam made an appearance with ACE, joining his elder brother James. The younger Siakam finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks; however, his poor free throw shooting (3-11) proved costly. Tyrone Watson finished with 12 points for ACE in the loss.
ACE had multiple chances at the charity stripe late to tie the game but Siakam and Watson both split a pair of free throws, with Anderson’s split at the line sandwiched between those sequences.
If there was one category that stood out from this game for M.A.D.E, it was three-point shooting. M.A.D.E finished the game hitting 12 triples compared to ACE’s five, despite ACE shooting a solid 47.1 per cent from the field.
Both teams started off slow as M.A.D.E was only up 9-8 six minutes into the game. However, the pace eventually sped up for both teams.
It didn’t look like it was going to be a close game at first as M.A.D.E led by as many as 11 (33-22) on back to back threes from Pierre. However, ACE, led by Ward, went on a 7-0 run and eventually had it down to two and a chance to tie or take the lead on the final possession. Pierre would have other ideas as he stole the inbounds pass and hit a buzzer beating triple to end the first half with M.A.D.E up 39-34.
Pierre led M.A.D.E. with 14 points in the first half while Ward paced ACE with nine.
After trailing for all of the first half, Ward’s triple with 10 minutes left in the second half saw ACE take their first lead of the night at 55-54. This began a furious back and forth affair for the rest of the game. Despite ACE down three with less than two minutes to go, they scored the next eight points, highlighted by Ward’s go-ahead triple and Pascal’s alley-oop jam.
And this is when Anderson stole the show finishing a critical three point play before M.A.D.E came out with a defensive stop, setting up the southpaw’s heroics to send the game to overtime tied at 75.
In overtime, Anderson broke the tie with a triple before Ward scored the next five points for ACE to retake the lead. However, Anderson was not to be denied as he completed yet another three point play to put M.A.D.E up 81-80. Pascal, off of a M.A.D.E turnover, then finished a dunk before Cadougan’s eventual game winner with the shot clock winding down.
With the win, M.A.D.E gets another shot at winning their first title.
SEMIFINAL #2: 1 Love T.O. vs. 6Man
With Kelly Olynyk not available to play for 1 Love T.O, it was looking like the team would be dead in the water. It clearly didn’t look that way in the first half, with 1 Love T.O. going up by as many as 13 early on. Against a powerhouse team in 6Man, an upset was waiting in store.
6Man’s Christian Kabongo, though, had other ideas.
A lockdown defensive effort in the second half, along with Kabongo’s game high 23 points, sparked a wild comeback 79-75 win for 6Man.
It was a tale of two halves for 1 Love T.O. After finishing the first half red hot from the field (54.8 per cent) and beyond the arc (50 per cent; 8-16), the second half was a different story as 1 Love T.O. shot a dreadful 29.4 per cent from the field, including an abysmal three of 17 (17.6 per cent) from downtown.
“I think we just buckled in defensively; we knew that the only way they would beat us would be from behind the line,” Morgan Lewis said. “Some of our younger guys (JV Mukama, in particular) really put the brakes on Brady (Heslip) and he struggled in the second half.”
Meanwhile, 6Man thrived offensively in the second half, shooting a robust 50 per cent from the field. The night was capped off with an exclamation point as Kabogno’s triple from near half court with 3.7 seconds left sealed the win. Kabongo also finished with a team high eight rebounds.
“When he (Kabongo) let it go, I was like, That’s just one of those threes that’s going to go in,” Richard Amardi said. “When it went in, I just wanted to see his reaction; I was excited for him.”
Kabongo had help, however, as four other players scored in double figures for 6Man. After a slow start offensively, Richard Amardi finished with 17 points, 15 of them coming in the second half. Lewis and Manny Diressa had 14 apiece while JV Mukama finished with 10.
For 1 Love T.O., former Raptors 905 guard Brady Heslip led the way with 22 points. Although he started off hot, he went cold at the worst possible time, only making one of his last seven shots. Former New Orleans Pelicans forward Axel Toupane finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds along with a game high five assists while Kevin Churchill also had a double-double, finishing with 14 points and a game high 12 rebounds.
1 Love T.O. made a statement early, using their long distance shooting, to go up by double digits early and took their largest lead at 13 (37-24). Heslip hit five triples in the first half alone, wowing the crowd with his shooting prowess; he finished with 16 at the half. Toupane was on triple double alert with eight points, seven rebounds and five assists at the half.
Kabongo and Diressa carried the offensive load for 6Man in the first half, scoring 15 points and 10 points, respectively. However, 1 Love T.O. went into the locker room, up 49-39 at halftime.
The second half saw 6Man roar back. Heslip seemed to be uncomfortable by the defensive intensity from 6Man as he missed his first four three point attempts of the half. Using a 16-5 run, 6Man took their first lead since the opening minutes on an Amardi layup (61-59). Both teams then went back and forth until Lewis’ fadeaway jumper put 6Man up for good at 71-69.
After a Heslip technical free throw, 1 Love T.O. and 6Man then traded baskets with Amardi hitting a layup and triple for 6Man while Churchill made a layup and Toupane hit a three for 1 Love T.O.. The final possession was almost done in by poor execution as Diressa lost the ball with time running out but Kabongo picked up the ball near half court and threw up a prayer.
His prayer was answered.
5th Place game: Northern Kings vs. CIA Bounce
Although this game was to decide 5th place, it was nothing short of entertaining as the game went down to the last shot.
Duane Notice’s put back at the buzzer pushed the Northern Kings past CIA Bounce, 73-72. This game featured a lot of notable players as Notice (South Carolina) played for Northern Kings while Dallas Maverick Dwight Powell and Oregon alum Dylan Ennis suited up for CIA Bounce.
Notice was magnificent for the Northern Kings, finishing with 28 points, nine rebounds and a game high eight assists and four steals. Negus Webster-Chan finished with a double-double with 17 points and a game high 10 rebounds while Mo Walker and Nick Lewis had 12 and 11 points, respectively.
For CIA Bounce, Ennis led the way with 17 points and dished out six assists along with three steals and a team high eight rebounds. Powell finished with 16 while Jamal McQueen had 15. Jonathan Blake, Freddy Appiah and Jason Caliste each had eight points, with Caliste recording a team high in assists (seven) and steals (four).
Despite committing 21 turnovers, Northern Kings made up for their sloppiness by crashing the glass, outrebounding CIA Bounce, 46-34 and in offensive rebounds, 13-5. As a result, Northern Kings took 14 more shot attempts.
Meanwhile, CIA Bounce moved the ball extremely well, dishing out an incredible 21 assists on 26 made shots and were active with their hands as well, with 13 steals.
UP NEXT (Aug. 28): One Love T.O. and ACE square off for third place at 6:30 p.m. while M.A.D.E and 6Man battle it out at 8:00 p.m. to determine this year’s Crown League champion.
Written by Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
Photos by Robert Leone
Edited by Drew Ebanks