It’s the Mob’s world, and the rest of SlamBall is just living in it. The Mob won the SlamBall championship on Thursday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Las Vegas’ Cox Pavilion in their usual dominating fashion. They downed the Lava, 49-36, in the semifinals and then dismantled the Slashers, 72-42, in the title tilt. Darius Clark (Blue Springs, Mo.) led the Mob’s offensive onslaught, earning SlamBall Playoffs Most Valuable Player honors with 45 total points in the two wins. The Mob were triumphant in all 18 games they played this season and were never seriously challenged. Brendan Kirsch’s crew won each contest by at least 13 points, including 10 by 30-plus and two by 40 or more.
“What made this possible was having the right players, in the right system, and turning that team into a family,” said Kirsch. “Turning that team into a family was the most important part of this whole thing. We don’t go undefeated in the regular season without that, and we certainly aren’t able to pull together and do what we did against the Lava and Slashers in these two back-to-back games without that. This is the first SlamBall team I’ve had where I can go to player number seven and feel totally, totally comfortable with him in the game, whether he’s starting or having to play defense. We’re a full team.”
League MVP and Mob captain Gage Smith (Elizabeth, Colo.) made things miserable for the Lava and Slashers all night. He ended the evening with 12 points, 10 stops and 16 loose ball recoveries, and was a key reason the Mob forced 41 turnovers. “It’s just unbelievable,” said Smith. “We came out and did this for each other, for each other’s family, and that’s what made it so special. When you fight for something bigger than yourself, you’re going to come out and do whatever you can possibly dream of, and it just happened. I’m just blessed and very grateful for this opportunity.”
Championship Game – Mob 72, Slashers 42
The Mob left nothing to chance in the SlamBall championship game, dominating from start to finish in a 72-42 thrashing of the Slashers. The Mob jumped out to an 18-2 lead and never looked back. They increased their lead to 42-21 at the intermission behind 12 points from Gage Smith. Darius Clark powered in 23 points while going 8-of-9 on rim attacks. Three other Mob players finished with 12 points: Smith, Cameron Horton (Jacksonville, Ala.) and Justin Holloway (Columbus, Ohio). Tony Crosby II (Long Beach, Calif.) and Alonzo Scott Jr. (Petersburg, Va.) each had 13 points for the Slashers.
Semifinal Game 1 – Slashers 60, Buzzsaw 56
After splitting their first four meetings of the season, the Slashers controlled most of the semifinal clash against the Buzzsaw and held on for a 60-56 victory. The Slashers led by as many as 15 minutes late in the third quarter but the Buzzsaw cut the deficit to four points with 42 seconds remaining on a dunk by Malik Abdul-Haqq (Seattle, Wash.). That was as close as the game would get as the Slashers advanced to the championship game. Slashers stopper Nathan Karsjens (Ackley, Iowa) was a force under the Buzzsaw hoop, rejecting a season-most 12 shots, and also drained a pair of four-point attempts. Tony Crosby II (Long Beach, Calif.) and Amir Smith (Missouri City, Tex.) led the Slashers with 14 points apiece. The Buzzsaw got a game-high 17 points from Jamaal Barnes Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif.).
Semifinal Game 2 – Mob 49, Lava 36
The Lava were able to hang with the undefeated Mob for three quarters in the second semifinal game but in the end too many turnovers and too much Darius Clark and Cameron Horton did them in. Clark tallied 22 points and Horton added 16 in a Mob 49-36 victory, their 17th in a row. The Lava trailed by just seven points at the end of the third quarter but were outscored 16-10 in the final stanza. The Lava turned the ball over 23 times and shot just 11-of-24 from the field, negating any chance to upset the Mob, who were 8.5-point favorites according to Circa Sports. Gage Smith disrupted the Lava’s rhythm on offense, finishing the game with seven stops, six loose ball recoveries and two steals.