The Santa Barbara Breakers were victorious in claiming the “Who’s Next” Classic Basketball Tournament held over the weekend in Lynwood, California. Ten teams competed during the two-day event. Three teams from the WCBL (West Coast Pro Basketball League) entered the tournament and finished 1st (Breakers); 3rd (Nation Wide All-Stars) and 4th (Marina Del Rey Advantage).
The Breakers had an easy time in game one, trouncing the Hollywood Aztecs 122-61. The Breakers were led by Tim Taylors 29 points. Tree Small (6’8 forward) chipped in with 21 points/12 rebounds and UCSB grad James Powell added 19. Top rebounder for the Breakers with16 was 6’9 power forward Sam Ikwe (U. of Manila).
In game two, the Breakers battled new WCBL-entry foe Nation Wide All-Stars throughout the contest, trailing 48-42 at the half. NW launched continuous 3 pointers, coupled with great penetration to the hole and maintained a nine point lead in the second half. The Breakers closed it to 76-74 but was unable to tie the game, losing 82-78. Tim Taylor was the leading scorer with 23 points while Tree Small led in rebounds with 11.
Moving to the Loser’s Bracket, the Breakers faced Team Say No and quickly jumped out to an eight point lead in the first quarter. Say No’s outside shooting kept them within firing distance and the score with the Breakers up 21-17 mid way through the period. In the second frame, Tim Taylor and Deon Marcus (6’8 Arizona State) ignited the Breakers offense with their three point shooting, keeping SB slightly ahead as the teams headed into intermission.
In the second half, the Breakers extended their lead to 14 points, yet never able to put the final nail in the coffin until the final minutes of play. The final score was Breakers 103, Say No 89. Taylor was once again the leading scorer with 26; Deon Marcus 19; Tree Small 17; James Powell 16; and 7’1 Center Rashid Byrd 11. Byrd also led in rebounds and blocked shots with 11 and 5, respectively.
The Breakers next opponent was WCBL brethren, Marina Del Rey Advantage. The game was a slugfest from start to finish. By halftime the Advantage had built eight point lead. The Breakers were backpedaling until Deon Marcus and Tim Taylor took the reins of the game with their transitional scoring. The Advantage was leading late in the game and the Breakers intensity pick up, as well as the physical defensive play by both teams. The end of regulation poetically resulted in the game being tied at 72 all.
In the overtime period, Tim Taylor’s three pointer at the top of the key broke the backs of the Advantage in the final minute of play. Jushay Rockett lifted a three point attempt from half court as time expired and the ball bounced off the left side of the rim. The victorious Breakers won 81-78. Top scorer’s were Marcus’s 20; Taylor’s 18; Byrd’s 12; Small’s 11 and Powell’s 10.
With the win over the Advantage, the Breakers moved into the Championship Game and were playing their unheard of, fourth game of the day. Ignoring fatigue, the Breakers jumped out to an 11-0 lead until the Pasadena Slam changed the game with hard, physical fouls in the paint and on the perimeter.
The game slowed down and settled into a methodical half court style contest. The Breakers led 21-17 midway through the first period and held a 38-34 at halftime lead.
The Breakers started showing their “stamina wear” when they were outscored 20-14, but the shot blocking and rebounding of Rashid Byrd; the offensive scoring of Deon Marcus and Tim Taylor, the Breakers stayed within two points throughout the final period.
Sam Ikwe provided additional scoring punch with three big baseline jumpers in the final period. Following two game tying free throws by Taylor, the Breakers came up with huge defensive stop. The key play was Rashid Byrd’s offensive rebound and finding UCSB Gaucho alum James Powell on an overhead pass for an open outside the three pointer on the right side of the court with eight seconds remaining in the game.
Following the last timeout, the Slam had two great opportunities to tie the game as time expired but both shots fell short. The latter attempt was shot by former Utah Jazz great and LA Laker, Byron Russell. With that miss, the Santa Barbara Breakers celebrated as they were crowned champions of the tournament.
Among the 120 plus players in the tournament, the Breaker’s superstar and all-time leading scorer, Tim Taylor, was named MVP. Taylor, who had just returned from a seven month playing opportunity in Beijing, China, led all scorer’s in the Tournament with 113 points in the contest (5 games). Also named to the First Team were Breakers Rashid Byrd and Deon Marcus.
The Breakers (6-1) will now gear up for the WCBL’s Black History Tournament, which will be held in February in Los Angeles, California.