TOWNSEND — It is a lot to ask a basketball team to win with just six players, but to win back-to-back games is a near impossibility. For defending champion Koivu Earthworks, that was the task at hand in the Pepperell Men’s Summer Basketball League on Thursday night. After getting by Dolce in the quarterfinals, Koivu Earthworks found themselves holding a two-point lead midway through the second half of their semi-final game. But Matley’s Pool & Spas’ fresh legs were too much as they closed the game on a 22-7 run to claim a 73-60 victory and berth in the championship game against Tom’s Home Renovation.
Trailing 7-5 two minutes into the contest, Koivu ripped off an 8-2 run to take their first lead of the night. Orlando Anderson got things started with an offensive rebound and put-back that was followed up by a Shawn Murphy driving lay-up. Anthony Weeks then scored four points, the last two coming on a pair of free throws to make it a 13-9 game.
Matley’s responded with an 8-2 spurt of their own to regain the advantage. Elliot Knower set up a Bob Hopkins three-pointer before hitting on a lay-up of his own while Zach Skinner added a long trey that put Matley’s on top at 17-15.
Jordan Murphy followed that up with a one-man show of moves to put Koivu Earthworks back in front. The burly guard went to the hole with authority, hitting for three consecutive lay-ups, the last of which resulted in a classic three-point play to put his team up five at 22-17.
A trey from Aaron Laliberte gave Matley’s the lead back at 30-28, but Koivu Earthworks closed out the first half with an 11-5 burst to regain the edge. Jordan Murphy went for five points on a trey from the right wing and driving lay-up while Shawn Murphy added a lay-in and two assists as Koivu Earthworks held a 39-35 lead heading into the intermission.
Down three at 41-38, Matley’s scored 10 unanswered points to grab a seven-point advantage. Knower got things rolling with a hard earned three-point play off a Laliberte look while Hopkins connected once again from three-point range to close out the run and make it a 48-41 contest.
As they had all night, Koivu Earthworks stormed back with a run of their own, reeling off 12 of the next 15 points. Jordan Murphy did the heavy lifting again, scoring on a short jumper, a long three and a driving lay-up while adding an assist on an Anderson lay-up that gave Koivu Earthworks a 53-51 lead. That would be the last lead they would hold on the night.
The big lift for Matley’s Pool & Spas came from an unexpected source. Jacob Hunt, who went scoreless in the first half, connected on consecutive treys from the corner to make it 57-53. Knower continued his strong game with a three-point play, a pair of assists and the exclamation point, sending down a loud dunk that put the game on ice as Matley’s advanced on to play for the title.
Knower was outstanding for Matley’s with 18 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. Hopkins finished with 16 points and three assists. Donald Hunt had a strong all-around game with 13 points, seven boards and six assists while Jacob Hunt added 12 points, all in the second half.
Jordan Murphy was the high scorer of the game, leading Koivu with 24 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. Weeks (nine boards and five assists) and Anderson (five rebounds) finished with 12 points apiece while Shawn Murphy chipped in 10 points and five assists.