April 2, 2016
PONTIAC, Ill. – The Chicago Blues held off a fourth quarter comeback by the Pontiac 66ers to capture the championship game of the Midwest Professional Basketball Association 114-113 on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues took the lead in the early minutes but the 66ers gained their first advantage with under six minutes left in the first quarter to turn the rest of the period into a see-saw game. A late run gave the Blues a 31-25 lead at the quarter break thanks largely to nearly 60 percent shooting from the field while holding Pontiac to 36 percent.
The second period resembled the first 12 minutes as the Blues carried a 57-52 lead into halftime. The Blues shooting cooled only slightly at 50 percent while the 66ers improved to 45 percent with 15 points coming from MPBA Most Valuable Player Alfonzo Houston.
Houston gave the 66ers their first lead of the second half at 70-69 with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter with a right corner three-pointer. Pontiac increased their lead to 75-70 with a three right of the key by Alex Marzette about 30 seconds later. The Blues clawed back and regained a narrow 76-75 lead with just over 90 seconds remaining with a drive by Diante Watkins, but the 66ers ended the third chapter with a 78-77 lead, helped by shooting 60 percent from the field in the quarter.
Pontiac bumped the lead to five points early in the final period, but a Tremell Adams three from the right wing tied the contest at 89-89 with about eight minutes to play. The Blues grabbed the momentum with a 11-0 run midway through the quarter to take a 101-93 lead, then extended it to 103-93 with 3:30 left.
The lead remained at 10 until just over a minute showing when Houston canned a left-wing three to cut Pontiac’s deficit to 109-102, then drained another with 55 seconds left to cut the Blues lead to 110-105.
A turnover gave the 66ers possession with 39 seconds, followed by a free throw by Khion Sankey with 32 seconds to slice the margin to 110-106. The Blues’ Al Rapier hit one free throw with 31 seconds, but a drive by Houston cut the Pontiac deficit to 111-108 with 19 seconds. Diante Watkins increased the Blues advantage to 112-108 with 14 seconds left with one free throw, but the 66ers rebounded the second toss and used a time out to advance to the front court, where Houston hit two free throws with 10 seconds to cut the Blues lead to 112-110. Nate Williams hit two free throws with nine seconds to seal the win despite a three at the buzzer by Houston to set the final score.
Watkins was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament after leading the champion Blues with 29 points. Other Blues scorers included Ron Patten with 19 points while Adams and Jakeem Hill each contributed 14 and Nate Williams and Al Rapier added 12 points each.
Pontiac was led by Houston with 41 points, followed by Marzette with 16, Marcus Hammonds with 13 and Kyle Anderson with 11 points.
PHOTO CREDIT: Heather Hollaway/MPBA