The first game of the first night of the inaugural season of the P.I.T.S Sports Winter League was between First Class and Sam’s Ballers, the newly crowned summer champs had a very different team this go round. Their coach touched on the obvious difference after their 98-74 win, Sam’s Ballers would start the season 1-0. First Class wasn’t very sharp in the season opener, but promise to play to their potential in from here on out.
The game started with the summer champs showing the veteran flavor to their winter lineup, gone is the youthful exuberance and energy that led them to their summer title. It was replaced with poised veterans with an acute sense of the game, they made the game so easy on the offensive end. Boo (25 points), Sponge (22 ), Ricky and Issac all shared the ball well. First Class had the size advantage, but Ricky did a good job leading the team on the glass. The advantage in their lack of a big man allowed them to push the ball up court no matter who got the rebound. That versatility allowed them to play small ball and they did it well.
First class didn’t just go away, they fought back into the game. In a stretch when Sam’s Ballers had taken out four of their starters, First Class got out into transition and made a dent in the league. cutting the lead to single digits. Trailing just 43-34 at the half, but it never truly felt as if they were as close as the score dictated.
They often say it’s how teams start halves and finish quarters that dictate who wins, this league just plays two halves so the quarters point is moot. However, in this case Sam’s Ballers made both points valid. They started the third quarter trading baskets with First class, then they took off! Immaculate ball movement led to more and more open shots, unfortunately for First Class, most of those shots were from beyond the arc. Sponge and Boo put on a shooting display from beyond the arc, while Issac and Ricky got a ton of hustle baskets, most of which on the interior.
RJ (27 points) for First Class was truly one of the lone bright spots on an otherwise forgettable night for the team. His blend of size, speed, and skill allowed him to get mostly any shot he wanted. The problem being that he had virtually no help on a night when he needed several teammates to be rolling in order to combat the offensive talent the opposing team possessed.
After pushing the lead to 74-54, Sam’s Ballers started to coast a bit and First Class again started to rally. They would cut the lead to 12 before the summer champions would respond. Sponge and Boo got into another scoring stretch, with Issac and Ricky getting involved. It was beautiful to watch from an offensive standpoint, but hard to watch if you were rooting for First Class.
The summer champions went on to win 101-78, starting their winter campaign off with a quality win. Hearing from both coaches after the game, there was optimism from both despite one getting the victory and the other suffering their first loss of the season. Sam’s Ballers coach was quick to point out the differences between coaching a young group versus a veteran bunch and was excited to add their big man to the mix next game. First Class is just focusing on putting a complete game together because they know they didn’t put their best foot forward to start this game.