MRDA Semifinal: (4) Puget Sound Upsets (1) St. Louis, 127-106

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OLD BETHPAGE, NY — Although they trailed for the first 53 minutes of the game, 4th seeded Puget Sound turned it on when it mattered, taking advantage of severe St. Louis penalty problems in the last 12 minutes to overtake the top seed and score an upset victory, 127-106. Puget Sound will face New York in the MRDA championship game at 7:30pm Eastern, while St. Louis will go up against Magic City for third place at 5:30pm.

St. Louis caught a tough break almost immediately when their opening jammer Short Knox broke his skate’s truck before even finishing his opening pass; he ended up passing the star to Gatekeeper pivot Magnum P.I.M.P. Fortunately for St. Louis, PSOD’s jammer Chuck Berry ended up being boxed and St. Louis jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start.

The score stood at 13-3 after three jams, but Scott Slamilton hit the box as Puget Sound’s jammer; oddly, it was once again Short Knox choosing to pass the star to pivot Magnum after picking up lead. That one went 13-4 to St. Louis, and they were ahead 26-7. Puget had a major communication breakdown going into the next jam, when their jammer Thunderstruck failed to get on the track in time for the whistle. Fortunately for Puget Sound, tough defense was able to get that from being a total disaster; Bat Wing was only able to put up 5-0 in a full two minutes, and it was 31-7 about ten minutes in.

Puget Sound put the lockdown on St. Louis scoring over the next three jams, though, and narrowed the gap to 31-28 at about the 15 minute mark. But just when it looked like PSOD might pull into the lead, PSOD lost their jammer Thunderstruck to the box and STL’s Debaucherous Prime battled his way past G. NoEvil and Ryrod multiple times. When it was over, Prime had a 18-0 jam that gave his team daylight again at 49-28.

Late in the half, St. Louis’s Gnat King Kill took an unfortunate track cut major when he attempted to go to jammer defense on Thunderstruck, stepped out of bounds on the inside corner and passed two skaters on the outside of the curve; that resultant powerjam moved the score from 58-32 STL to 58-47 STL. However, Puget Sound gave most of it right back when Thunderstuck back-blocked near the end of that jam, and Bat Wing scored 10-0 to make it 68-47 with about 90 seconds left in the half. A Quadzilla 4-0 ended the half at 68-51 St. Louis.

For various reasons, the second half took a long time to really get underway. Five minutes in, the score margin was almost identical at 72-56 St. Louis, at which point there was a rather official lengthy timeout that ended up being longer than the half had been up to that point. When things finally got rolling again, St. Louis got a quick 2-0 — immediately followed by another official timeout. Although this one was shorter, there would be yet another delay after the following jam when Puget Sound jammer Scott Slamilton stayed down at the end of a 9-0 to St. Louis. When Slamilton was back up, it was a 83-56 St. Louis advantage with 22:31 left to play.

Still though, Puget Sound refused to let St. Louis get comfortable with the lead. A big powerjam to Thunderstruck with about 16 minutes to play made it a single-point game again at 91-82 St. Louis; unfortunately for PSOD, a 4-0 to St. Louis was followed by a 9-5 powerjam to Short Knox over Scott Slamilton. With 12:37 left to play, it was St. Louis 104, Puget Sound 87.

At that point, though, St. Louis’s offense went almost totally cold — scoring only 2 more points for the remainder of the game — and Puget Sound made their move. Puget Sound’s Speed Dealer was able to capitalize on a light St. Louis pack as Short Knox was stuck behind Ryrod and Quadzilla; Puget Sound picked up 8-1 there to make it a 10 point difference at 105-95, and Stan Daside scored 9-1 to get Puget Sound to just 2 points away, 106-104. Speed Dealer completed the comeback with a 10-0 powerjam that put Puget Sound in the lead for the first time with 6:33 left to play, 114-106.

After a 3-0 to Thunderstruck and 5-0 to Hollywood Chuck Berry, St. Louis was on the wrong side of a 35-2 run. Though they were only down by 16 at 122-106, they had no momentum whatsoever and a raft of penalty problems to boot with 4:28 left in the game.

The nail in the coffin came two jams later, as St. Louis filled their box, including Magnum P.I.M.P. as jammer; with the score 127-106 and Puget Sound up, PSOD’s Scott Slamilton elected to run out most of the clock on a 0-0. It gave St. Louis a final prayer as Magnum had a chance to claim lead jammer out of the box with about 40 seconds left in the game, but he had little offensive help in the pack and Hollywood Chuck Berry claimed lead, called it at 0-0 and sent Puget Sound to the championship game.

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