By Alex Semerjian
VBL Game 1:
#12 B-Ball Junkies vs #4 DOMPEN
The VBL quarterfinals kicked off with a matchup between #12 seeded B-Ball Junkies and #4 seeded dompen. Going into the game, dompen looked like a large favorite as they pulled up to the beach with a star-studded roster including Deezy and Bodybag. The game started off with a bang, as a large fight led to a stoppage in play. After cooling down, the two squads would engage in a competitive contest, going back and forth and trading buckets. The matchup between reigning MVP Zach Hinton (25 pts, 9 reb, 4 ast) and Bodybag (28 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 5 blk) delivered, as both players had strong performances in search of a win. Ultimately B-Ball Junkies would step up defensively in the second half, resulting in a run that would give them a double-digit lead. B-Ball Junkies would hold onto the lead in the 4th, resulting in a 71-64 win. For B-Ball Junkies, new acquisitions Chris (8 stl) and Chidi (15 reb) proved to be key defensively, slowing down dompen on the perimeter and paint respectively. Zay (17 pts) had some tough buckets down the stretch for B-Ball Junkies, including a pivotal transition and-one. For dompen, Bodybag and Deezy (17 pts) combined for some exceptional plays, but ultimately fell short. Zach Hinton secured VBL Quarterfinal Player of the Week, and will look to lead his underdog squad to a semifinal win.
VBL Game 2:
#6 In the Lab vs #14 Woodies
In the Lab vs Woodies was the next matchup, and a rematch of last year’s championship. Last year, In the Lab got the victory, and this year was no different with In the Lab emerging as 59-47 victors. The game was tense, as Coach Devin got into it with the Chocfam leading to multiple stops in the contest. Dwight set the tone early for In the Lab, taking the ball with force to the basket and finishing through contact with regularity. The Lab would take control of the game after half, as the arrival of star man Darae Elliott was pivotal. In an impressive showing, Darae would score 15 points and dominate the paint with dunks and rebounds. Woodies put up a worthy fight, but ultimately the star power of In the Lab was too much, as a fourth quarter surge saw them take a 59-47 win. Player of the Game was Dwight (22 pts, 5 reb) who backed his talking up with an exceptional performance. For Team Woodies, White Choc (12 pts) had a slow day for his standards, and Ice Choc (12 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast) and Baby Shaq (18 pts, 5 reb) led the squad. After starting 0-2, In the Lab has now won 6 games in a row and has established themselves as a complete squad in pursuit of their second championship in a row.
VBL Game 3:
#2 Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops vs. #10 Hamilton x Wilson
The penultimate contest of the game was between #2 seeded Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops and Hamilton x Wilson. The first half was a back and forth affair, with each squad answering buckets from the other. Dre “Mt. of a Man” (22 pts, 5 reb) established his presence early, with his hook shots and effective post moves powering his squad. A turning point for Surf Club was the arrival of Maurice “MothePro” Jones(8 pts, 3 blk) at halftime, as his presence lifted the play of his team. A second half run urged on by the Surf Club fan section saw the squad hold a double digit lead late into the contest, ending in a 67-57 win. Player of the Game for Surf Club was Tone, who finished with a dominant 20 pts, 16 reb, 2 blk, 2 stl. J-Dubie (17 pts, 8 reb) and Daniel Pugh (11 pts, 3 stl) put in solid performances as well, and helped Surf Club look like a real contender. For Hamilton, Dommo (9 pts, 5 reb, 4 stl) put in good work defensively and left it all out on the floor. Surf Club x Fentwood with the win has earned themselves a semi-final matchup against the surging In the Lab squad, which is sure to be a special contest.
VBL Game 4:
#1 Timeless vs #9 Prototype 81 x Sunblock
The sunset game on the beach was between top seed Timeless and #9 seeded Prototype 81 x Sunblock. The first two and a half quarters were dominated by Timeless, who used their perimeter defense to swarm Prototype and capitalize with fastbreak dunks. Down 20 points late in the third, Prototype 81 would begin to mount their comeback, with Juice hitting tough shots and taking the game into his own hands. Prototype would close the gap to 3 points, and with less than a minute left Pop Champagne (10 pts, 5 reb) would sink two free throws to bring the game within one point. After a turnover from Elvin (5 pts), who had a bad game for his standards, Prototype 81 had a chance to win the game. As the buzzer sounded, Juice (27 pts, 7 reb, 4 3s) threw up an extremely difficult jumper which would miss, giving Timeless a narrow 62-61 win in what ended up being a huge scare for the squad. Player of the Game for Timeless was Damian Young (19 pts) who continues to show out for his squad as the season nears a finish. The return of AJ (11 pts, 12 reb) was huge for Timeless, as his paint presence was important in slowing the talented bigs of Prototype 81 down. Additional standout performers include Bentley(9 pts, 3 3s) for Timeless, and Brandon “Big Baby” (12 pts, 9 reb) and The Mute (12 pts) for Prototype 81. Timeless will look to put the sloppy finish behind them as they take on underdogs B-Ball Junkies in the semifinals.
VWL Game 1:
#3 Dr’s Orders vs. #6 Hoopbus
The first play-in game for the VWL was between #3 Dr’s Orders and #6 Hoopbus. Hoopbus looked like a solid squad with a couple new acquisitions, including former player of the week Brianna (12 pts, 8 reb) and Danielle “Diamond”. The game was a back and forth low-scoring contest, featuring elite defense and competitive spirit. Dr’s Orders was led by star PG Bree, who finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 steals. In a close game, Dr’s Orders would emerge as 36-33 victors, with Bree the player of the game. Dr’s Orders got solid contributions across the board, with 6 players all scoring 4+ points. Dr’s Orders will need more offensive production in their semifinal matchup versus Basketball Beauties, as the starpower on the BBall Beauties squad will need to be matched.
VWL Game 2
#4 Gage Basketball vs. #5 Mango House
The second play-in contest between Mango House and Gage, was a close matchup on paper. The contest began with a dominant showing from Mango House, who went out to an early lead. Gage would improve offensively, making the game somewhat competitive. In the end, Mango House would ride their early run, never letting their lead be less than 5 points en route to a 48-37 win. Mango House was led by consistent performer Lolo, who’s 16 points and 5 rebounds earned her VWL Play-In Player of the Week. Ryan (8 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast) and Eve (7 pts, 6 reb) had solid supporting performances for Mango House, while Gia (9 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl) was the best performer for a short-handed Gage squad. Mango House faces the daunting task of knocking off VWL favorites Lady Sweat, who are undefeated and look the part of a championship squad.