An intense evening of hoops hit the hard court at the J. L. Crowe gymnasium Wednesday and when the elbows stopped flying, the Trail Men’s Basketball League decided which two teams will meet in next week’s final.
In a one-game playoff, the fourth seeded Castlegar Realty took on number one North Port to see who would advance to play the winner of the second seeded Mota Automotive and the third-place Rock Island Tape Centre in the TMBL final.
In a spirited match, Northport fought from behind most of the night, sending Realty to the foul line 13 times in the second half alone. When the ball stopped bouncing, Castlegar beat out the top-seed 89-81
Castlegar’s Chris Kalesnikoff nailed four three-pointers in the opening 20 minutes to pace the Realtors to a 45-32 first-half lead. However, the American side roared back early in the second half going on a 14-2 run to cut the lead to 47-46.
Castlegar called a timeout, regained their composure and went back up by 10. Ed Canzian sparked the outburst when he drew a foul, stepped up and calmly sunk three straight free throws then came back with one of three, 3-pointers from beyond the arc to seal it for Castlegar.
Kalesnikoff netted 33 points in the game while Canzian added 24.
In the late game, Rock Island led by as much as 13 points and finished the first half leading 43-37, before Mota Automotive seized control and cruised to a 73-65 win.
Mota’s defence stepped up in the second half, limiting Rock Island to 22 points. The tape centre couldn’t douse the hot hand of Eric Chernoff as he pulled up and dropped three 3-pointers in a row to give Mota a 47-45 lead three minutes into the final frame.
The point-guard dialed up eight long distance baskets in total, leading Mota with 32 points, while Steve Mota added 14 of his own. Steve Thomas led Rock Island with 17 points.
Last year’s champion Adrenalin Adventures from Rossland was bounced by Castlegar last week, in the fourth vs fifth elimination game. Only six points separated the first and fourth place teams in what has arguably been the most competitive and close seasons in the TMBL.
The TMBL final between Castlegar and Mota tips off Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. in the Crowe gym, while Northport will play Rock Island for third spot at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is free.