Fourth-seeded NickStrong fell to fifth-seed Shocker City in a heated Quarterfinal matchup Monday night. As expected, both teams were fired up from the start and revealed some of their previous quarrels with one another. The court was a war zone between these rivals.
In a very tight game in the final minute, NickStrong had the ball down by one. Ryan Florentine forced a highly-contested three-pointer that missed. The refs called a foul, resulting in NickStrong getting the ball out of bounds with one second left. A deep shot from Anthony Vessicchio came up short at the buzzer, and Shocker City escaped.
It’s a miracle Shocker City even got the win as they were not playing as a team at all. They were bickering amongst each other, distracting themselves from the game which gave NickStrong an edge over them in the first half.
Weekly Rebound Podcast host, Greg Horne, had some thoughts on Shocker City’s performance.
“This team is more talented than any other team in this league really, but they beat themselves before they beat anyone else,” Horne said.
At the half, NickStrong was up by nine points and it did not look promising for Shocker City. Somehow in the second half, they turned it on and were acting like their usual selves again.
“Its the same thing we’ve been doing all year, we let these teams that can’t compete with us let them think that they can,” Carmine Santorelli said. “They end up beating us the whole game, but this time we came out with the win [in the end]”.
This was far from their best showing this season, but Shocker City did not let up. It came down to the final seconds but they would not let this win slip through their fingers.
“Me, personally, I have my worst quarter every game [at the start], but the second half I finally started playing like myself,” Santorelli said. “I feel like that jolted my team and everybody fed off of that.”
No one is safe in this league and it is clear it is anyone can beat anyone on a given night. According to Horne, their talent prevailed this time, but the big question is can they carry that talent into the Finals and take home a third-straight title?
A Finals rematch awaits Shocker City in the Semifinals this season, as top-seeded Run TMC stands between them and another Finals birth.
“[Tonight’s] second half is going to be the full game [next week]. We’re going to play that from the beginning and not even give them a chance,” Santorelli said.