Night Owls 130, Throwbacks 114
After the Throwbacks defeated the Urban Legends in their final game of the regular season, they quickly became the Night Owls’ biggest fans, needing the Owls to defeat the Work Horses to earn the last remaining playoff spot. The Owls came through for them and the Throwbacks’ reward was a meeting with them in the quarterfinals. Following this hard-fought and occasionally contentious playoff battle, it’s safe to say the Throwbacks won’t be calling themselves fans of the Owls any time soon.
The Throwbacks opted not to faceguard Night Owls leading scorer Kyle McGrath, instead sending defenders at him at from different directions whenever he touched the ball. McGrath (31 points, 10 assists) connected on two cross shots in the first period but was mostly held in check early on. In his stead, one guy that really stepped up his offense was Tyler Katz, who recorded a career-high 30 points on 15-24 shooting. It was also the best the Night Owls’ defense has looked this season. Not only did the Owls receive strong efforts in net from Joe Tulskie (14 points, 14 saves on 21 shots) and Bob Zane (13 saves on 27 shots), but they were hounding the Throwbacks all over the field, led by Chris VonTanhausen (15 assists, 4 blocks, 4 steals). Still, the Throwbacks hung tough behind Steve Botta (16 points) and with under a minute left, Ryan Kirby (15 points) kicked a ring shot through from the wedge zone to bring his team within two points. At the end of the period, the Night Owls led 36-32.
A few minutes into the second period, a John Graham (16 points) cross shot gave the Throwbacks the lead at 47-46. Unfortunately for the Throwbacks, that would be their last lead of the game as they began to plague themselves with turnovers and allow the Night Owls to pull away. Kyle McGrath converted a 5-point play to give his team a 59-53 advantage. Moments later, a steal and transition four-pointer from VonTanhausen stretched the lead to 65-53, emblematic of the turnover problem for the Throwbacks. Although Steve Fariss (14 points) answered with a 4-point ring shot of his own, it was all Owls the rest of the period, who led 85-67 going into the final frame.
The Owls continued to spread the ball around offensively, as Jeff Gerace (14 points) and Brett McGlensey (16 points) found plenty of open space in the flex zones. The Throwbacks didn’t roll over as a pair of cross shots by John Graham drew them back within 18 points at 111-93. Minutes later, Brian Marron (16 points) finally found success, hitting an 8-point kronum to make the score 123-108. Finally, a Jim Bradley 6-point penalty shot in the final minute got the Throwbacks within 11 at 125-114, but there was not enough time to complete the comeback.
A great all-around effort from the Night Owls earned them the quarterfinals victory and a meeting with the 2nd-place Evergreens later in the day. As for the Throwbacks, they showed a lot of heart at the end of the season, winning their last two games by one point apiece to reach the playoffs. Both Brian and Kevin Marron showed flashes of the big-play ability the Throwbacks were counting on them for and will likely grow into more consistent threats next season. Added to consistent offensive presences like Steve Botta and Steve Fariss, with hopefully the addition of another big arm, the Throwbacks will be right back in the thick of things in Season 5.
Jet Sets 118, Urban Legends 114
All season long, the Jet Sets teased Kronum fans with flashes of offensive brilliance that didn’t quite make up for inconsistent efforts on the defensive side of the ball. With Jeff Regensburg playing in possibly his final Kronum game preceding a move to the west coast, there was no time like the present for the Sets to put all the pieces together. They certainly came out with the type of defensive intensity impartial observers have been hoping to see from them all along, but the Urban Legends had semifinal designs of their own.
The usual suspects did the damage offensively for the Jet Sets. Stephen Vandenberg (20 points) found the near side of the chamber from the flex zone all period long. Matt Parsons (13 points, 9 assists, 4 blocks) did the same thing on the other side of the field in addition to finding Christian Rota (14 points, 12 saves on 20 attempts) for dunks in the goal zone. Jeff Regensburg (team-high 27 points, 3 blocks) got things going a third of the way through the period when he connected on a 4-point ring shot. The two teams traded shots until Mike Ragan (14 points, 12 assists) connected on a 4-point ring shot at the buzzer to cut the Sets’ lead to 40-34 going into the first intermission.
Five minutes into the second period, Scott Anderson (17 points) converted an unusual 7-point play, putting the Legends ahead 45-44. Anderson was fouled in the goal zone for one point, before draining a set shot from the penalty line through the rings for 6 points. Kevin Clark (26 points) also hit his stride in the second period, scoring 10 straight of his team’s points during one stretch. However, those were the lone bright spots for the Legends in the period, as Regensburg began wrecking havoc in the flex zone areas. A 5-point play from him in the later stages of the period extended the Jet Sets lead to 77-63. With additional contributions from Ryan Skinner (15 points), the Jet Sets kept the pressure on, leading 83-65 after two periods.
One man who wasn’t going to go down without a fight was Kevin Glover (20 points, 12 saves on 27 attempts), who sank 4-point ring shots on consecutive possessions to trim the deficit to 87-73. Then, about midway through the period, Kevin Clark converted a 7-point play and it was a game again at 92-88. In the closing minutes, a Kevin Clark cross shot finally tied the game back up for the Legends at 104-104, setting up a wild finish.
First, fans were witness to possibly the individual highlight of the year as Christian Rota connected on a bicycle kick from the wedge zone to re-knot the contest at 108. Riding that momentum, Mike Quintans (3 steals) and Regensburg each sank flex shots and Regensburg was successful on a penalty shot attempt to give the Jet Sets a 7-point advantage. The Jet Sets intentionally fouled Scott Anderson who improbably drained another set shot through the rings for 6 points. After the Legends allowed Ryan Skinner’s penalty shot to go in unhindered, a last-second cross zone attempt by Kevin Glover was easily saved, securing the victory for the Jet Sets.
The Jet Sets played a terrific game on both sides of the ball to defeat a gritty opponent in the Urban Legends. Unfortunately, by letting the Legends back into the game in the third period, they were unable to obtain any rest down the stretch, which could prove costly in their semifinal match later in the day against the Nimble Jacks. After starting the season 4-2, the Urban Legends ended up losing their final 5 matches on the season. The Legends have plenty of talent on the roster and it won’t take much for them to jump back into the upper half of the league. They will need to find the right balance between their exemplary ground game and Ragan and Clark up top, as well as put a better defensive system in place to stop opposing offenses from the cross zone.
Points – Kyle McGrath (31), Tyler Katz (30), Jeff Regensburg (27)
Assists – Chris VonTanhausen (15), Mike Ragan (12), Kyle McGrath (10)
Saves – Joe Tulskie (14), Bob Zane (13), Kevin Glover (12), Christian Rota (12)
Blocks – Chris VonTanhausen (4), Matt Parsons (4), Jeff Regensburg (3)
Steals – Chris VonTanhausen (4), Mike Quintans (3), Jeff Gerace (2), Kyle McGrath (2)