IAC unstoppable again

Steve Jones and Andy Davis of the Island Athletic team keep Nichols Brothers out of the lane in the first half of Saturday
Steve Jones and Andy Davis of the Island Athletic team keep Nichols Brothers out of the lane in the first half of Saturday's men's recreation league championship game. IAC won the game 48-36.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

The youngest team in the South Whidbey men's recreation basketball league learned something about age Saturday night.

In a championship game at Langley Middle School between the 20-somethings of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders and the 40-somethings on the Island Athletic team, the young guys from the boat yard learned that there is a reason why the old guys from the club have won nine of the past 11 championship games.

"They're old, we're young and we tried to use that to our advantage," said Charlie Sarkis, a 2000 alum of the South Whidbey High School basketball team and member of Nichols Brothers. "But it didn't work out."

Despite making a hard run in the second half, youth and stamina fell victim to treacherously accurate shooting by the old hands from IAC, as well as cool play under the basket and on defense. Led by team captain Jay Bryan, who had 18 points to lead all scorers in the 48-36 victory, IAC survived a Nichols charge that brought a championship upset within four points late in the second half.

After falling behind 21-12 in a first half dictated by the IAC defense, the guys from Nichols came back from halftime with a run-and-gun approach. Powered by Nate Crane, who hit three treys in the second half, Nichols Brothers tried to outrun IAC. But when Nichols' leading scorer, Dan Levine went to the bench after a hard fall early in the half, the momentum failed to build. Levine, who had 27 points in last week's semifinal game against Payless Foods, could only squeeze 10 points out of IAC even though he later recovered and came back into the game.

In the end, IAC's measured pace seemed to wear the Nichols boys down. The team's big men -- high school coaches Andy Davis, Greg Coleman and Mark Eager -- bulled open huge holes to spark IAC's inside game, while the team's youngest member, Brandon Adams, did a good deal of the hard running duties. With 1:05 to go and the score at 41-34 in favor of IAC, Adams drew a foul and hit the front half of the 1-in-1, then came right back to the hole to sink a field goal and give his team a 10-point lead.

Two more free throws by Steve Jones and one last field goal then iced it for IAC.

Bryan, who noted that he'd never played a game with as many jump balls as Saturday's highly possessive game produced, said his team went in with a strategy that worked.

"We had to come out hard and establish good intensity," he said.

The victory brings the championship trophy back to IAC after they lost it to the Payless Foods team last winter. Nichols knocked off Payless in the semifinals round on April 5.

Nichols' Sarkis said his team will be back for the next rec league season to win the championship, no matter who the opposition is.

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