Another solid night “Inside The Gates” Friday evening, and I think we got our first taste of playoff Goodman Basketball. 

In the first game, we had team A-Wash take on team Get-Right, in what turned out to be a lackluster match-up. This being my first time witnessing both teams play, I didn't get a good feel for either one, I was impressed by one player though, Reem aka “Ving Rhames”. 

Reem scored eight of the first ten points by Team A-Wash. Reem used his size inside the post to help give Get-Right an early 12-5 lead in the first 5 minutes of the half. Reem was involved in all of Team Get-Right's big plays, scoring 17 points, 11 in the second half. Unfortunately for Reem, his team could not match his production, 4 players combining for 23 points. 

A-Wash walked away with the victory 48-40, being led by R.J, who finished with 14 points. R.J had a few tough buckets, crossing up Tim of Team Get-Right from just outside the paint before driving to the basket for a nice lay-up. A-Wash victory wasn't very convincing, both teams only combing for 36 points at the half. There was a lot of blown layups -mixed with some good hand-checking- but mostly blown lay-ups. 

The prime-time game between Team Ariyuan and Backyard Elite was nothing short of spectacular. 

Backyard Elite walked away with the victory, 70-67, after making a stop in the final 12 seconds of the game, not allowing Ariyuan to get up a good attempt to tie the game. 

This game had star power with former Virginia Tech Hokie and 2014 Goodman MVP, Jeff Allen, playing for Backyard Elite. Allen only scored 12 points but all 12 was impressive. He was being checked by the thinner Brian for team Ariyuan, who had the BF-Crazies support, but their support just made Allen attack Brian harder. Twice, the bigger Allen tried to dunk on Brian, succeeding once, driving baseline and rising for a two-hand slam, right in front of the B-F Crazies' section. 

“This [is] anybody league, but I try to dominate every game I come out” Allen said after the game. Even though his point total wasn't dominate, his presence in the paint was definitely felt. 

His teammate and fellow Hokie alum, Brian Chase, aka “B-Chase”, led the team in scoring with 21 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc.

This game was back-n-forth from beginning to end. While A-Wash and Get-Right struggled to score 20 points in the first half, Backyard Elite and Ariyuan was tied at 17 eight minutes into the game. Neither team would back down, and anytime one would make a play, the other would answer. After Allen's 2-hand slam, Marcus Ashton for Ariyuan, who finished with 42, answered with a trey ball to tie it at 36 going into halftime. 

Marcus, who was my vote for MVP of the game despite the loss, put on a show in the second half. When Backyard Elite went up 56-44 with 6:30 remaining, Marcus scored 11 consecutive points, knocking down back-to-back-to-back trey balls to give Ariyuan a 1 point lead 57-56. From then on it was a string of big plays for the rest of the half. 

After Marcus third 3-pointer, Allen would get the AND-1 call but missed the free throw. On the ensuing play Brian caught a put back for Ariyuan, still trailing Backyard elite 59-60 with 2:45 remaining. 60 seconds later, Marcus converted another trey ball but B-Chase would answer with a three of his own, giving Backyard a 65-62 lead with 1:55 remaining. 

Marcus would get a tech after he approached referee Fishbone a little too aggressively about a miss call, which Commissioner Miles let it be known that was not a smart move. A free throw plus an AND-1 basket by Jacobe gave Backyard a comfortable 70-64 lead. Marcus would hit another trey ball, finishing with 8 total, cutting Backyard lead to three with 12 seconds left. 

“We came out, we were short handed, we didn't have two of our main guys, it was best for me to step up.” Marcus on his 42-point performance. “We had a bunch of guys that were playing in the game before so I had to step up.” 

I asked both Allen and Marcus what are their expectations for the rest of the season and upcoming playoffs and both answered by saying “win some more games”. Playoff time “Inside the Gates” is on the way.  

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