Suns claim RCBL championship with 88-77 win

Jade Cash of the Suns takes it to the hole against Damon Mello of the Lakers. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Suns were the class of the league during the regular season and capped off a 15-2 season with an 88-77 victory Monday night over a game Lakers team to win the RCBL championship, two games to one.

The top-seeded Suns fought back to win the series after losing an 18-point lead in a 99-94 defeat in game one. The Suns demolished the Lakers by 30 in game two and withstood a furious Lakers rally in the fourth quarter of the decisive game three.

The Suns led 71-54 after three periods, but the Lakers opened the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run. The Suns went more than five minutes without a bucket until James Holenko banked a rebound off the glass to stop the Lakers rally. Sterling Bishop followed with another basket and the Suns restored a bit of breathing room at 75-65. The Lakers got within six again at 83-77, but the Suns hit just enough free throws to win the game.

Not to take anything away from the Lakers’ late surge, but the Suns enabled the comeback by missing 24 shots from the charity stripe on the night.

Both teams lit up the scoreboard in the opening 12 minutes by shooting at a 60 percent clip. The teams swapped the lead five times, with the Suns up 26-24 heading into the second period.

By halftime, the Lakers had seven three-pointers. The Suns had four of their own and took a 47-44 lead to the break.

The run-and-gun first half gave way to an intensely physical second half as the teams slowed down and played a more patient half-court game with bruising combat in the paint.

The Suns took control of the game in the third quarter by starting off on a 10-2 run and outscoring the Lakers 24-10. Asil Cash paced the Suns outburst with a trio of treys.

Although the Lakers managed to overturn a 13-point deficit in the fourth period of game one, a 17-point hole in game three proved to be a little too much to overcome.

Jade Cash led the Suns and all scorers with 28 points, 14 in the first quarter. Asil Cash scored 22 including five treys and Sterling Bishop had 20 points.

James Rolston had 21 points for the Lakers. Caleb Nicholson had 14. Both players drained four treys. Lamar Moreis finished with 11 points.