Written by Alex Semerjian and Sydney Imus
Urban Necessities vs. Crenshaw Coffee
The final week of regular season games kicked off with a matchup between two 1-4 squads, Urban Necessities and Crenshaw Coffee. With both teams desperately needing a win to carry momentum into the playoffs, Crenshaw Coffee appeared to be the hungrier squad, getting out to an early lead. These efforts were led by Wes “Sidney D” (14 pts, 2 3s), who scored 12 1st quarter points and showcased his prolific three-point shooting. As the game went on, Crenshaw Coffee was able to maintain their lead through uncontested fast break buckets and a balanced scoring effort. In the second half, Crenshaw Coffee extended their lead, cruising to an easy 68-47 blowout win over Urban Necessities. Corey “Hard Left” Hall’s 16 point and 10 rebound double-double earned him player of the game for Crenshaw Coffee, looking unstoppable in the paint. For Urban Necessities, star rookie Omari had an off-game (12 pts) and appeared frustrated with the lack of calls from the officials. Chima (14 pts, 4 ast) provided a creative spark for Urban Necessities, with his production giving his squad an option to go through. With the defense keyed in on Omari, Urban Necessities will need to find creative ways to get him open looks and use the increased attention from defense to free up open looks for others. For Crenshaw Coffee, the balanced scoring in this game will need to be carried into the playoffs, as Chance the Hooper, AJ “Chosen One”, and Tyrelle each had 10 points. Wes and Corey Hall also finished in double figures. Urban Necessities ended the season as the #13 seed and will face powerhouse dompen in the first round, while Crenshaw Coffee finished as the #11 seed and will play In the Lab.
Bball Junkies vs. Fabletics
Fabletics and B-Ball Junkies matched up in a battle between two 2-3 squads, with Fabletics coming into the game with the momentum of a 2 game win streak, while B-Ball Junkies has had a rollercoaster season. This matchup pitted the two dominant paint presences of Zach Hinton of BBJ and Allex Austin of Fabletics against each other, both ranking in the top 2 in rebounds on the season. The game was a back and forth affair, with each squad showing offensive prowess and transition efficiency. As per usual, B-Ball Junkies was led by the scoring of reigning MVP Zach “Artillery” Hinton, who’s 21 points and 5 rebounds kept his squad within striking distance. However, in the battle of dominant bigs, Allex Austin got the upper hand with his 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists giving him player of the game and his squad the pivotal win. Allex has put himself in the conversation amongst the league’s best, standing out in the past couple games to reverse the narrative on the Fabletics squad’s season. In addition to Allex, Fabletics continues to receive steady production from the highlight film trio of Mel (13 pts), Nez (17 pts), and Sam Taub (13 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast), who continue to improve and gain chemistry with each other. B-Ball Junkies got nice contributions from Jeremy Buckets (15 pts, 8 reb) and Sammie (14 pts), but the squad needs more from the supporting cast as too much dependence on offense and defense is placed on Zach Hinton. Through their late season performances, Fabletics earned themselves the #8 seed, and will take on Prototype 81 in the first round of the playoffs, while B-Ball Junkies got the #12 seed and will take on New Jersey Sets.
Woodies vs. Hamilton x Wilson
Hamilton x Wilson vs. Woodies saw the bottom two teams in the league square off, with Woodies still looking for their first win. Hamilton came out with a point to prove, dominating from the tip and never letting up in search of improved playoff seeding. In a 83-52 win, Hamilton took care of business, while Woodies showed a lack of fight and inspiration within the team. Nick “Hood Jesus” continues to be a much needed veteran presence for his young Hamilton squad, earning player of the game. Hood Jesus showed off a variety of jumpshots en route to 25 points, 5 3’s made, and 7 rebounds, hitting many of his patented bank shots. Last Chance U star Deshuan Highler coasted through the blowout for Hamilton dropping an easy 10 pts and 2 3s, while Grizz (12 pts, 5 stl) continues to match his good vibes with productive play for Hamilton. Woodies was led by A.D.’s 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Watts put in 13 points for the squad. Juice the Athlete had an off-day for his Woodies squad, which is pivotal as his scoring and 3pt shooting is heavily relied upon. Going into the playoffs, Woodies is the 14th seed (last place), and will need a variety of pickups plus improved performances from those already on the team to stand a chance and pick up a huge upset win. Hamilton will look to build on their momentum, as they earned the #10 seed and will face Actively Black who is on a losing streak and looks vulnerable.
Prototype 81 vs. New Jersey Sets
Prototype 81 x Sunblock vs. New Jersey Sets saw two teams in the middle of the pack square off, ending in a 64-57 win for New Jersey Sets. The first quarter saw the respective stars on each side dominate, with Juice scoring 14 early points for Prototype and Estes scoring 12 points for New Jersey Sets. Juice would cool off, ending the game with 20 pts and 4 3s, while Estes would continue to dominate in all facets. With his wild vertical, Estes is able to dunk effortlessly, with no one even bothering to challenge him out of fear they’ll end up on the wrong end of a viral video. With 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals, Estes received player of the game, and continues to lead his New Jersey Sets squad. For Prototype, birthday boy Brandon “Big Baby” Jamar gave the fans something to cheer for with his two vicious putback dunks, ending with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Estes was supported with the interior presence of Jiair, who ended the game with 12 points and 9 rebounds and was huge in the 4th quarter. As the #9 seed, Prototype 81 will lean heavily on Juice Bilbrew, who ended the regular season as the leading scorer and 3pt shooter of the VBL. In a battle against up-and-coming Fabletics, Prototype will like their chances with their veteran led squad. New Jersey Sets ended the season strong, earning the #5 seed and a matchup against B-Ball Junkies. With one of the most underrated squads in the league, New Jersey Sets will look to establish themselves with a deep postseason run.
Actively Black vs. In the Lab
In the Lab and Actively Black matched up in a battle between two 3-2 squads who were trending in opposite directions. In the Lab entered the match on a 3 game win streak, while Actively Black walking in with 2 fresh losses. The trends continued, as In the lab took a 57-48 win, extending their win streak to 4 games and establishing themselves as a postseason threat. Since the arrival of DJ Everage, In the Lab has looked like a different squad and he led his team with 12 points, 2 3s, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals, earning player of the game. In the Lab got out to a 20 point lead, but Actively Black made the game somewhat competitive through Blake Lander (15 pts), K (12 pts), and sniper Steve Wooten Jr. ‘s (12 pts, 4 3s) efforts. In addition to DJ, In the Lab got big contributions from the interior presence of Trey Deuce (12 pts, 10 reb) and the shooting of Jerem (13 pts, 3 3s). In the Lab’s late season run got them the 6th seed and a matchup against Crenshaw Coffee. Although a different squad than last year, the defending champs should not be underestimated. Their young squad looks hungry and ready. For Actively Black, a late season slip saw them earn the 7th seed and a matchup against Hamilton. Actively Black’s full strength roster will be scary come playoff time, as Chris Staples, Zach Andrews, Rome Flynn, Steve Wooten, Caleb, and the Lander twins form a top tier nucleus of players.
dompen vs. The Mecca
The Mecca vs. dompen was an intriguing matchup between two 4-1 squads looking to make playoff runs. The game was a physical back and forth match, with dompen able to stay close despite being short-handed and without their stars. In the second quarter, Malik “Slim” Anderson got the ball on the fast break for The Mecca, taking a dribble and rising up for a mean poster jam on Jamaal. The dunk is the indisputable dunk of the regular season, getting the crowd onto the court and stopping the game for two minutes. With the dunk, Malik earned himself a new nickname from Mouthpiece, “Mile High Club”. Despite the momentum swinging play, dompen stayed focused and gave themselves a chance to win in the fourth. After a bad pass from The Mecca, dompen had three golden chances to win the game but could not capitalize. Malik would finish as the player of the game with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 blocks and the memorable poster, while his dynamic duo partner Josh “Buffet” had 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. For the short-handed dompen squad, Emmanuel “Dark Horse” Brown (16 pts, 6 reb, 4 stl) and CJ (12 pts) stepped up and both will hope to have a similar impact once the stars return. The Mecca goes into the playoffs as the #3 seed and a matchup against Woodies, in which they are the overwhelming favorites. The ability for The Mecca to win close games will be important in the postseason as their stingy defense keeps games close. dompen ended the season as the #4 seed and will match up against struggling Urban Necessities. The squad is interesting, as full strength is probably the best in the league but without stars like Hezigod and Bodybag seems like a much more average unit.
Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops vs. Timeless
The final game of the weekend was between two of the best squads in the league, undefeated Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops and one-loss Timeless. Timeless smothered Fentwood from the get-go, with the perimeter defense leading to steals and fast break dunks. Timeless seems to have figured out its identity in the past couple weeks, with the five or four guard lineups working well. Led by Week 6 player of the week Elvin “E5” Rodriguez, Timeless would get out to a 26 point lead at one point in the game. Fentwood behind the scoring flurry from Maurice “MothePro” Jones (39 points) would make the game closer, ending in a 9 point loss for Fentwood Hoops. Timeless will rely on the duo of Elvin “E5” (24 pts, 10 reb, 7 ast, 5 stl) and Dame “God’s Prodigy” (25 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 4 stl) to take them far into the postseason, with the high-flying antics of both hoopers fun to watch for fans. Additionally, Malik’s (12 pts, 8 reb) versatile inside-out scoring has been a boost for Timeless, giving the squad an extra weapon on offense. For Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops, Daniel Pugh (13 pts) continues to have a great season, and the squad will rely on him, Mo, and the return of Tone to propel them deep into the VBL playoffs in search of a championship. With the win, Timeless leapfrogged Fentwood Hoops and took the #1 seed, but Fentwood maintained a first-round bye with the #2 seed. With both teams not playing for another 2 weeks, it is important that they stay fresh and maintain their chemistry as both squads have high expectations from fans to deliver in the playoffs.