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8/15/2022 5:01 am  #651


Re: National Dashball League

New York blew a 3-1 lead

Lets go Lights, bring it home!


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9/05/2022 6:32 pm  #652


Re: National Dashball League

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For just the third time in its now-17-year history, the NDL Championship Series did not feature the Texas Redbacks or the Philadelphia Row. The fact that it did feature the California Sea Lions, who were themselves appearing in their seventh Finals, was overshadowed by the fact that the team they were facing, the Minnesota Lights, were playing in just their fifth season as a member of the league’s most recent expansion class. It would be tempting to portray this as the old guard vs the new up-and-comers, but this year’s Sea Lions looked completely different from even the last time they appeared in the Finals in 2025, let alone their title-winning teams in 2017 and 2018. In fact, the two teams’ recent playoff experience was nearly identical, as both teams lost in the semifinals last year after long stretches of not making the playoffs. Their records this year were identical as well, as Minnesota was only hosting Game 1 on the back of the second tiebreaker, strength of victory. In case you’re not good at subtext: this series was expected to be very exciting.

When it came to the actual game, that was bearing fruit. The two teams hung together for most of the first half, with the Lights up two as the time wound down towards the break. As Minnesota would soon find out, though, things can change in the blink of an eye. Sea Lions W/ZB Matt Powers tossed to F/ZB Michael Basch for a three-point score, flipping the lead to California. With the clock running down, Lights B/ZB Zach Clark looked to get the ball to the offense quickly, picking up the ball and trying to make a long pass to B/ZB Rob List. Unfortunately, the throw was high and List couldn’t quite come down with the ball. Instead, Lions B/K Kyle Zorya found himself with the easiest steal of his life, and with Basch still on his way back from the end zone, would have just about the easiest defensive assist of his life as well. Basch caught the ball on the wing, spotted up, and drained a five-point bucket, ballooning the lead to six just before halftime. The Sea Lions would emerge from the stoppage riding that momentum and build the lead up to 21 in the next two innings before going on to win by 19, stealing Game 1 on the road.

Minnesota would need to respond in Game 2 to avoid going into an enormous hole. Unfortunately, California was simply the better team in this one. Kyle Zorya had a great day on defense, stopping 31 of 38, and W/ZB Isaiah Graves had an even better one, as the 24-year-old completely shut down the Lights offense, allowing just two passes by him all game. The Sea Lions offense would hold up their end of the bargain, as Michael Basch led the team to a 135-point showing. The Sea Lions had taken back to back games in St. Paul and would head back to San José with a strong chance of a sweep - something nobody had on the cards just a few short days ago.

The Lights were not about to take that lying down, though. With Zorya having cooled off and Graves being targeted quite a bit less, the Minnesota offense would finally put something together, and the two teams would put together an instant classic of a Game 3. The lead would go back and forth all game, with one team going on a bit of a run and their opponents always managing to respond in kind. As the game went later and later, the pendulum began to swing less and less, and as the two teams fought for every inch, the score differential brought itself to equilibrium. With his team down two and the chance to tie or take the lead, Lights F/ZB Joseph Kirtland’s shot was knocked down by Zorya, but Kirtland would collect his own rebound and found twine on his second attempt. The shot was ruled a three-pointer, giving Minnesota a one-point lead, but Sea Lions head coach Austin Rosenow would light up the challenge lamp, contending that the ball was over the line when Kirtland kicked it. For the most part, even the home crowd didn’t see much of anything in the replays, but the replay crew must have seen something, because they overturned the call, making it a two-point score and a tie game. Naturally, the game would go to overtime, and while the extra quarter would start out tight, the Sea Lions would capitalize on their good fortune, pushing their lead up to seven and taking a commanding 3-0 series lead.

Angered by the dubious call and extra motivated to not get swept out of their first Finals appearance, Minnesota came out with a vengeance in Game 4, as F/ZB Kevin Simmons’ 47 points and W/K Richard Singh’s 39 points assisted led a wire-to-wire assault as Game 4 would end in a blowout, 152-115. Suddenly, it looked like there might be some life in the Lights, and they’d look to build on that momentum as they brought the series back home for Game 5. As it would turn out, though, neither team had any momentum, and defense would rule the day, with neither team scoring more than 90 points on the night. It was an extremely boring game for anybody who didn’t have a dog in the fight, but an extremely tense one for Lions and Lights fans as their teams stayed within five points or less for 62:18 out of 64 minutes, and sure enough, it would still be a one-possession game with about a minute left on the clock.

With a 4-point lead and the ball at his feet, Minnesota W/ZB Isiah DeJesus would look to make it a two-score game by kicking the ball to a waiting Joseph Kirtland in the end zone. Kirtland would not get his second chance to play the hero, though, as Isaiah Graves would go full extension and get his hand on the ball, keeping the lead at four. The Sea Lions brought the ball up the floor quickly, but the Lights defended the perimeter tightly, hoping to prevent a go-ahead five-point shot. Michael Basch found a way around that, making a run into the end zone and then back out into three-point territory, where he found himself basically unguarded for a jump shot that cut the lead to one. Minnesota would attempt to run out the clock, but of course, California was playing tough defense, hoping to force a mistake, and eventually, Matt Powers got a hand on a W/C James Pitts pass. The pass would come up short, and rather than taking control with his feet, B/ZB Ty Foster would still look to catch the pass, but the ball bounced before hitting his hand, and Foster was called for a handball, giving California the ball in hand with just 9 seconds to go. B/ZB Dave Sanderson would look to pass the length of the court, and was able to hit Basch, who had two defenders all over him. With all of his other options defended tightly, the 27-year-old star decided his best option was to go soccer-style and try to solve Richard Singh. Basch faked the jumper, getting W/ZB Joseph Dushkin to bite, dropped the ball underneath him and put a low shot on net. Singh was able to stop it, but couldn’t quite control the rebound with his leg. It was an eerie moment of déjà vu, except that unlike in Game 3, two points was enough for California to take the lead. Basch’s boot would find twine, and with just 1.3 seconds left on the clock, nobody else would touch the ball before the buzzer sounded. In a frenzied final minute, the Sea Lions had completed the comeback, and for the first time in 15 years, the first team to win the First Trophy was taking it back home.


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     Thread Starter
 

9/05/2022 6:36 pm  #653


Re: National Dashball League

Dang, sad to see Minny couldn't take it home, but I also like the Sea Lions so it's a wash for me. Hoping for the Lights to get it done next season!


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9/05/2022 7:18 pm  #654


Re: National Dashball League

Congratulations  to the Sea Lions on winning your first title in 15 years. Was hoping the Lights could win, but I’ll take anyone but Texas or Philly so yeah.

Last edited by Rugrat (9/06/2022 10:19 am)


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9/05/2022 10:46 pm  #655


Re: National Dashball League

Rugrat wrote:

Congratulations to the Sea Lions on winning your first title in 18 years. Was hoping the Lights could win, but I’ll take anyone but Texas or Philly so yeah.

Did they sneak three extra years in there between their last championship and now?


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9/06/2022 10:19 am  #656


Re: National Dashball League

Dan O'Mac wrote:

Rugrat wrote:

Congratulations to the Sea Lions on winning your first title in 18 years. Was hoping the Lights could win, but I’ll take anyone but Texas or Philly so yeah.

Did they sneak three extra years in there between their last championship and now?

 
Fixed


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