PLAY-OFF season is upon us in Division I of the Jersey Basketball Association Winter League.
The top two teams at the end of the regular season battle it out in the play-off stages, with the top team, Lyons, taking on second-placed Titans.
As the Lyons completed the regular season at the summit, they automatically go into the play-offs with a 1-0 series lead.
The winners will be the first side to three wins.
The first game of the finals began with defensive intensity, as both teams focused on neutralising the known scoring threats on the opposing side.
The Titans started strong, as veteran duo of the point guard James Reed and centre Guillaume Hoareau linked well.
They took it in turns to score baskets, by exposing gaps in the Lyons defence.
But the Lyons would not lay down and picked up their offensive efforts to hit back, as captain Cam Stables created space well to get open for his shot.
Stables netted nine of the Lyons’ 18 first-quarter points to keep the game neck and neck, as the quarter concluded 18-17 in the Lyons favour.
The second quarter saw the Titans move the ball freely to create baskets, keeping the Lyons defence honest with six different players scoring points in this quarter.
The Titans also held up well on the defensive end, limiting the Lyons offence, forcing turnovers and creating frustration among them.
The Lyons rallied a late surge with baskets from head coach Pawel Zalewski and point guard Luke Hazelwood-Hamon to minimise the Titans lead as the half finished 37-31 in favour of the Titans.
After a regroup at half-time, the Lyons needed to come out with more energy and they responded in the third quarter.
Stout defence earned some timely steals where they could exploit the fast break.
The efforts of Stables and Hazelwood-Hamon kept the Titans on their toes.
Titans’ leadership shone through once again, as Reed and Hoareau kept the team among the pressure.
The Lyons needed to overturn a ten-point deficit heading into the last quarter down at 56-46.
A tense fourth quarter saw the Titans assert their dominance on the game, as they continued their scoring efforts while the Lyons had no gas left in the tank.
Strong shooting from Stables to start the quarter gave a brief glimpse of hope, but the Titans played tactically and used the clock well to see their victory through.
The game finished 68-55, while Hoareau and Stables both finished with 20 points as the high scorers for their teams respectively.
With the series finely posed at 1-1, the top two sides meet again a week today.