RCBL tips-off new season

Sterling Bishop of the Lakers charges to the hoop past the Heat's Luke Bettencourt. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The RCBL tipped-off a new adult basketball season Monday night at the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club in Edgartown. The opening night doubleheader featured two exciting, hotly-contested games with all signs pointing toward a competitive four-month season ahead.

The defending champion Suns took on the Bulls in the opener. After a shaky, rusty five minutes full of turnovers, the teams settled down, got in sync and played a great game of basketball. Neither team led by double digits and in the end, after multiple lead changes, the upstart Bulls gutted out a 98-93 win.

The Bulls took the lead for good by staging a 6-0 run with 4:30 to play in the fourth quarter. Trailing 86-85, Ben Ford scored, stole the ball and put in a lay-up to make it 89-86. Jack Fielding followed up in short order, increasing the lead to 91-86. The Bulls would have pulled away in style if not for a dry spell at the charity stripe where they shot 4 for 16 in the final period.

Brant Silvia led the Bulls with 36 points. Anthony Johnson scored 24 and Ben Ford added 19, including 15 in a monster fourth quarter. Jade Cash had the hot hand for the Suns with 36 points, followed by Asil Cash (24) and Mike Baptiste (11).

In the nightcap, the Lakers roared back from a 12-point deficit, scoring 39 points in the final quarter to beat the Heat, 102-98. Fittingly, the first Laker basket of the game belonged to John Healy, starting his 25th season in the league.

Down 75-63 to start the fourth quarter, the Lakers rode the hot shooting of James Rolston, Sterling Bishop, and Heath Estrella to turn the tide. Estrella broke a 94-94 tie at the free throw line, then banked one off the glass. Caleb Nicholson sank two free throws and Jeff Labell hit a jumper to put the game out of reach.

Each team had five players in double figures. Sterling Bishop led the Lakers with 22 points, followed by Jeff Labell (15), James Rolston (15), Heath Estrella (14), and Damon Mello (13). Nick Viera had 23 for the Heat, who lit up the scoreboard with 15 three-pointers. Lucas Brewer started off with four consecutive treys, finishing with five and 21 points. John Netto had 19 and John Swan 11. Will Fielding had a superb game for the Heat at both ends of the floor, grabbing five of his six steals in the third quarter, while adding 10 points.