Lakers rally to stun Suns, lead RCBL finals 1-0

Jade Cash makes a break to the hole around Damon Mello. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Lakers rallied from 18 points down to shock the top-seeded Suns 99-94 in game one of the RCBL finals Monday night at the Boys and Girls Club in Edgartown. Game two of the best-of-three series will be next Monday, March 18, at 6:15 pm. The third game, if necessary, is set for March 25.

Adding additional luster to the upset, the second-seeded Lakers (9-6) won without their captain and leading scorer, Heath Estrella. They trailed by 65-47 in the third quarter and began the fourth down 82-69. Methodically, they chipped away at the Suns lead until Damon Mello reeled off five straight points to put the Lakers in front for the first time in the game, 91-89, with 1:50 on left on the clock. After Sterling Bishop hit one of two at the line for the Suns, Lamar Moreis drove to the hoop for two to put the Lakers up 93-90.

Then, the Suns imploded. James Holenko got his second technical foul of the game and earned an automatic ejection. Asil Cash followed, in rapid succession, with a T of his own. The Lakers’ Jeff Labell stepped to the line and calmly sank all four free throws to put out the Suns for the night.

Damon Mello and Jeff Labell dominated the fourth quarter by combining for 22 points as the Lakers outscored the Suns 30-12. Mello totaled 25 points for the night. Labell finished with 21. Lamar Moreis had 19 points, James Rolston scored 13, and Caleb Nicholson added 11.

The loss was only the second this season for the Suns (13-2). Both have come at the hands of the Lakers, who also beat the Suns 92-89 on December 2.

Asil Cash led the Suns with 28 points, followed closely by Jade Cash with 27. Sterling Bishop finished with 18, and James Holenko had 14.