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A Newly Crowned Champ

06/14/2018, 2:45pm EDT
By Rob Gray & Ashley White

Darien Rodriguez leads Grove Street to their first title in a hotly contested matchup with Vipers.

            It’s not often that a team goes from being unsure if they could field a team this season to winning the championship, but Grove Street did just that.  After a season that didn’t go quite as they had hoped last winter, they came back in the spring with a vengeance. 

            They may have come away on top, but it was certainly not easy.  Grove Street faced tough opposition in championship contender Vipers, who had put together their own dominant season and finished with the same record.  Grove Street held the tiebreaker though, winning their only regular season matchup by a score of 51-45.  These were two different teams though, both coming in with confidence on the backs of excellent play.  Unfortunately for the Vipers, they were missing a key player in each matchup and will be left wondering what could have been.  Grove Street, to their credit, played their game perfectly and left no doubt as to who was the best team in the league.

            To get to this point, the Vipers took down the always dangerous and talented Hot Boys, who certainly had championship aspirations themselves, and Grove Street handled business in convincing fashion against the 4 seed Probably Hungover.  Both teams rode 5-game win streaks into the big game.  Just how evenly matched were these teams?  Both entered the day with an identical 7-2 record.  Grove Street scored 523 points thus far in the season while Vipers stood at 522.  Grove Street did, however, give up just 438 points for a +85 point differential while Vipers surrendered 468 points for a +54 point differential.  Vipers, in turn, boasted three players who ranked in the top 5 of at least one stat category while Grove Street placed just 1 player with such credentials.  We knew we were in for a wild finish to this season.

            The championship game opened with a flurry, with both teams pushing the pace.  Grove Street started out on fire, hitting their first 8 shots from the field.  They did a much better job of communicating with each other and moving the ball while Vipers was struggling to find their range, missing on a number of 3-point attempts.  The lead got to as high as 9 points for Grove Street as they showed why they were the top ranked team in the league.  Vipers struggled with switches and needed to do a better job of playing as a unit, but Will Kales helped keep them in the game with his 17 first half points.  Darien Rodrguez led the way for Grove Street with 19 as they took momentum and a 34-26 lead into the break.

            Vipers flipped the switch in the second half and made this one the hotly contested matchup that we anticipated.  They came out with much better communication and more aggression, also starting the half 4 for 4 from the field with 3 of those coming from beyond the arc.  Grove Street hit a couple of 3’s themselves, but Vipers was able to cut it to just a 2 point game.  The physical play continued, and the game was knotted up at the 12 minute mark.  Vipers clawed their way all the way back and took their first lead of the game with 9 minutes to go.  They’d jump to a 9-point lead and things were starting to spiral out of control for Grove Street as Vipers found their groove.  To their credit though, Grove Street never wavered.  They regained their composure and answered right back with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to just 1 point with 2 minutes to go.  This was aided by a strong defensive effort that would hold Vipers scoreless for over 5 minutes of game time.  They would regain the lead with under a minute remaining and Ryan Rummel, who had a huge game himself, came up with a clutch steal with just 12 seconds remaining that would ultimately extend the lead to 3.  One more free throw before the final buzzer capped off Grove Street’s 16-3 run to close out the game.  Grove Street took down Vipers in an exciting championship matchup by a score of 66-62.

            It was a heck of a battle between two very deserving teams.  Vipers were very active on defense and stayed in this one on the back of 10 steals to Grove Street’s 4.  The difference in this one, however, could be seen on the boards.  Grove Street dominated the glass and doubled their opponent’s rebounding total, winning the battle 24-12.  Vipers may have also gotten a bit tired, playing with just 6 players, while their opponent attacked in waves.  In the loss, Vipers had 3 double digit scorers in Will Kales (24), Emman Ebosie (17), and Jarrett Schreck (11).  Gabe Robinson also had a game high 4 steals.  Grove Street was led by an excellent performance from Darien Rodriguez as well as Ryan Rummel and Tim Rench.  Rodriguez was certainly the MVP of this one, finishing the game with a high of 26 points including 3 made 3-point attempts, another game high in assists with 5, 2 steals, and was the second leading rebounder at 8.  Rench had a game high in boards with 9 and matched this with 9 points.  Rummel nailed 4 3-point attempts on his way to 19 points and added 3 assists, 1 steal, and 3 rebounds to his clutch play.  It was certainly an opportune time for his season high in scoring.

            Congratulations to both teams on a pair of excellent seasons and a hard-fought championship battle.  There could be only one champion though, and that title deservedly goes to Grove Street.  Grove Street was the most dominant team all season and that total team effort culminated in their first league championship.  Congratulations again, and we look forward to seeing you all back in the fall!


Congratulations to the 2018 Spring League Champs Grove Street!!!


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Tag(s): Basketball  Spring League  Hob/JC Division  Bandits  Chubb  Probably Hungover  Grove Street  Hot Boys  Alligators  Vipers