MRDA Semifinal: (2) New York Survives (3) Magic City, 139-131

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OLD BETHPAGE, NY — In the first semifinal of the 2011 MRDA championship tournament, the second-seeded New York Shock Exchange led for nearly the whole first half, trailed for nearly the whole second half and needed a comeback in the last 6 minutes to pull out a nailbiting win over 3 seed Magic City Misfits, 139-131. The win puts New York in the championship match at 7:30pm Eastern against either top-seeded St. Louis or 4 seed Puget Sound.

It was clear from the start in the game that both teams wanted to take control of the back of the pack, racing from their benches to stack the jammer line in a manner quite reminiscent of Gotham facing Philly at this year’s East Coast Derby Extravaganza. Throughout the entire game, there were no jams in which the teams lined up at the pivot line. However, both teams consistently took knees to force jam starts.

Magic City won the first jams to go up 15-3 after about 6 minutes, but when NYSE got a powerjam opportunity for Ladies Knight, New York retook the lead at 18-15 and pushed it to 23-15 on the other side of the powerjam. From that point on, New York got the better of Magic City for most of the remainder of the half, with Magic City finding themselves in a 82-54 hole going into what looked like the last jam of the half.

But the bottom fell out for NYSE at a very inopportune moment, as Ladies Knight cut his way to the box and Jonny Longhare pulled down a 20-0 before calling with just seconds left in the half. With Knight still boxed, Magic City called a timeout and set up a 7-0 for Zambone to end the half. Quite suddenly, a decent and steadily growing New York lead had been cut to just one point at 82-81 at the break.

Magic City took a one-point lead at 84-83 on the opening jam of the second half, but New York took it right back with a 4-0 to Rinkworm to follow. That set up a third jam with a lengthy delay on the jammer whistle as both teams stalled to get some blockers out of the box — but when the jammers were released, NYSE jammer Jonathan R was boxed and Magic City went up again. Two jams later, Magic City had their biggest lead of the bout at 20 points — 107-87 — and New York called their first timeout with 23:30 left in the game.

Scoring was fairly low over the next stretch, with New York barely getting the better of some single-pass jams to slowly cut into the lead. With just under 15 minutes to play, New York had narrowed the lead to single digits at 112-103. The score got stuck there for two long jams as the teams traded four jammer penalties. Magic City was still up by 9 points with 11 minutes to play, and added a 4-0 next to go up 117-103.

New York jammer Rinkworm survived some severe punishment from Magic City in the next jam, getting leveled multiple times but managing to pull out a very hard-earned 5-0. Magic City lost their jammer to the box at the very end of the frame, setting up a key opportunity for Jonathan R with the score 117-108 Magic City and 7:57 left on a clock stopped for an official timeout.

Magic City’s Zambone fouled out at that point, and Jonathan R singlehandly battled to a lead change as the NYSE pack chose not to engage the Magic City blockers in favor of letting Jonathan force them to split the pack. That jam went 19-2 to New York and New York was finally back in the lead, 127-119.

A quick 4-2 to Magic City, followed by an equally quick scoreless one, made it 129-123 New York with about 3:05 left to play, and New York called their final timeout there.

Jonathan R won a 7-4 over Jonny Longhare to make it 136-127 New York with 1:34 left on the clock and Streak facing Ladies Knight in the final jam. Both teams put up major defense, but Streak pulled lead jammer status and began scoring while Ladies Knight was stuck. However, key blockers from Jonathan R and Abe Drinkin did not allow Streak to put up the jammer lap that Magic City needed for the win; a tired Ladies Knight eventually got to freedom and scored 3 to Streak’s 4. Streak called it off almost exactly as the period clock expired, leaving no time for one more jam, and New York escaped with a 139-131 victory.

Jonathan R led New York with 74 points while Streak led a more balanced Magic City with 38.

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