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For the second time in the five-year history of the J. Budd Grebb Memorial Summer Basketball League, there is a repeat champion.
Regular season champion BeeGraphix turned the trick Thursday night at Mechanic Street Playground in California, using an overpowering stretch run to roll past Farmers Insurance, 69-54, to successfully defend its title.
BeeGraphix (10-2) held a shaky 41-40 lead with 10:42 to play after Farmers' Noah Brown scored a basket. But the champs went on an 18-3 run that upped the advantage to 59-43 with 3:21 to play and the game was over.
League MVP Elijah Minnie turned in a dominating performance for BeeGraphix in front of a large crowd on the outdoor court.
The 6-8 center scored 19 points, grabbed 28 rebounds and blocked nine shots.
Teammate Dayshore Majors led the winners in scoring with 21 points, 12 coming in the first half.
BeeGraphix jumped to a 7-2 lead less than three minutes into the game and had the first half lead as high as 11 points (23-12), before Farmers (7-5) rallied to cut the deficit to 31-27 by halftime.
Farmers continued the rally early in the second half and forged a tie at 33-33, on a layup by Cameron Sarber with 14:15 to play.
At that point, it looked like Farmers was poised to get revenge for last season's championship loss to BeeGraphix.
However, an 8-1 run upped BeeGraphix's lead to 41-34, before Farmers came right back by scoring the next six points to cut the gap to 41-40.
That set the stage for the game's biggest run by the two-time champions to clinch the crown.
Brown led Farmers with 20 points and six rebounds. He had 13 points in the first half.
Matt Bernadowski had nine points and eight rebounds and Lavelle Rush had eight points and nine rebounds in a losing effort.
After the game, the league's all-star teams were named with Minnie and Majors on the first team, along with Brown. Rounding out the first team are Northwood Realty's Cole Novotney and Campy's Pizza's Charlie Scharbo.
On the second team are BeeGraphix' Luke Doptis, Farmers' Bernadowski, Dairy Queen's Clintell Gillaspie, Northwood's Kass Taylor, Campy's George Prota and Union Cleaners' Jalen French.
The Grebb League All-Stars will take on the Uniontown Summer League All-Stars on Aug. 11 at Bailey Park in Uniontown. The contest starts at 7 p.m.
TITLE NOTES: Minnie had 28 of his team's 37 rebounds ... Farmers actually held an 18-16 edge in rebounding in the first half ... Minnie, Doptis and Majors are four-year members of BeeGraphix and played on both title teams.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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