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ISLANDERS SQUEEZE BY BULLDOGS

Another highly anticipated rematch in IIAAG boy’s basketball took place Tuesday night at JFK as the home team Islanders halted a near comeback from the visiting Okkodo Bulldogs to hold on for the win.

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By John Baza

Another highly anticipated rematch in IIAAG boy’s basketball took place Tuesday night at JFK as the home team Islanders halted a near comeback from the visiting Okkodo Bulldogs to hold on for the 75-69 win.

In a balanced effort overall, the Islanders were lead by Billy Belger with 13 points, followed by Jesus and Conner who added 12 apiece. Karl Melencio lead all scorers with 29 points, including a highlight dunk in the first half that excited the fans. Aiden Ferrara and Vern Gustilo added 18 and 15 points respectively for the Bulldogs.

In their previous bout earlier in the season, it was the Bulldogs who came out victorious. This time around, it was the Islanders who were able to pull off the nail-biting victory.

Despite the Islanders maintaining the lead for majority of the first half, the Bulldogs were able to overcome a 17-point deficit by outscoring their opponents 21-9 in the third quarter.

Bulldogs Karl Melencio rises up for the one-handed dunk during the 2nd quarter. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Bulldogs Karl Melencio rises up for the one-handed dunk during the 2nd quarter. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

JFK’s Chris Conner recorded four blocks defensively in the quarter, but his effort came up short as Bulldogs’ Aidan Ferrara and Christian Acosta paced their team with scoring runs to bring them within five points (55-50) heading into the final quarter of action.Stewart's

Okkodo came out aggressive in the first few minutes of the 4th as Karl Melencio hit a pair of free-throws and Nate Lorenzo converted on a layup to bring them within one (55-54).

The Islanders’ Aljurrel Grape increased the lead back to four as he went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line, collecting his own rebound for the put-back bucket, but another pair of free-throws from Melencio and a drop step bucket from Ferrara gave the Bulldogs the 60-58 lead with 4:15 left, their first lead since the 1st quarter.

The lead was short-lived as JFK’s Billy Belger nailed a clutch 3-pointer from the wing on the ensuing play, giving the Islanders the advantage once again.

The final minutes of the game saw intense action as both teams battled to cease full control of the game. The Bulldogs’ Lorenzo, Melencio and Gustilo kept their team in contention with timely buckets in the paint.

Islanders Chris Connor drives into the paint and avoids all the swiping Bulldogs. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Chris Connor drives into the paint and avoids all the swiping Bulldogs. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

With emotions high and physicality apparent, the Islanders’ Wayne Jesus nailed an acrobatic “and-1” shot that sent the home crowd into frenzy. He converted on the free-throw to make the score 68-64 with 2 minutes left in the quarter.

Okkodo’s Lorenzo was able to get a put back bucket off a missed free-throw to bring the Bulldogs within two, but the Islanders’ Grape, who came up clutch throughout the 4th, drove through traffic for the floater to make the score 70-66 with a little over a minute left.

After a costly offensive foul on the Bulldogs, the Islanders’ Ricky Pak was able to nail 1-of-2 free-throws after getting fouled (71-66) with 37.3 seconds left.

Okkodo’s Gustillo immediately capitalized on the opportunity as he drained a clutch double pump three-pointer from the wing with 20 seconds left (71-69).

The Islanders’ Belger was fouled and calmly sank both freethrows to make it a two-possession game (73-69) with 16.1 ticks left. A miscommunication in the inbounds play for the Bulldogs forced a turnover, sealing the 75-69 win for the top-seeded Islanders.

“We just stayed calm and kept our composure. We took better shots, made our free throws and just played Islander basketball” said the Islanders’ Belger on his teams effort to pull off the win in the final minutes of the game.

Other Scores

FD 65, Southern 63
St. John’s 63, Harvest 49
GW 77, ND 58

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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Bulldogs Vern Gustilo tries to get past the taller Islander Chino Cruz. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Bulldogs Vern Gustilo tries to get past the taller Islander Chino Cruz. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Billy Belger attack the basket while Bulldog Karl Melencio defends. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Billy Belger attack the basket while Bulldog Karl Melencio defends. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Wayne Jesus avoids the contest for an acrobatic finish at the rim. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Wayne Jesus avoids the contest for an acrobatic finish at the rim. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Billy Belger fires a three-pointer immediately after getting the wing pass. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Billy Belger fires a three-pointer immediately after getting the wing pass. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Ricky Pak converts on his first jump shot in the 1st quarter. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Islanders Ricky Pak converts on his first jump shot in the 1st quarter. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

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