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THE Warriors' Jason Diaz proved to be too much for the Crusaders during Tuesday evening’s U12 Guam Youth Basketball Association (GYBA) Drug Free Basketball League championship game, played at Astumbo Gymnasium in Dededo.
With torrential rains, in monsoon conditions outside, the only flooding occurring inside was in Diaz’s point total section in the scorebook. By game’s end, Diaz scored a game-high 21 points, whereas the rest of his team combined for just five in their 26-20 victory over the Crusaders.
The Warriors’ ‘go-to man,’ Jason Diaz, got things rolling early for his team with only 30 seconds having ticked away off the opening clock, driving the lane for a two. Diaz then turned around, stole the inbound pass and drained another short 4-footer.
The Crusaders’ Isiah Reyes answered back with a quick bucket of his own, but despite his team-high 16 points, the maroon and black, throughout the game, never took over the lead.
Trailing the first half 22-11, the Crusaders tried to improve upon their quest for the championship by, once again, relying on their star player Reyes. Despite scoring 12 of his 16 points in the second half and clawing their way back within six (25-19), they still had no answer for the Warriors’ Diaz.
With time running out on the season and the Crusaders’ chance at winning the championship, they decided to run the ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ defense, committing fouls and stopping the clock four times within the game’s final two minutes. Twice the strategy worked, but turnovers lead to the plan backfiring.
In a post-game interview, Warriors head coach Morgan Aiken reflected on the first time these two teams met during the regular season. He commented, “We lost last time we played them. We were up by 10, they came back and we lost.” An excited Aiken praised his team and added comment to the championship victory, “We just wanted to keep the offense flowing. Everybody worked hard.”