BY DAN DONOVAN | BK Zabiny entered the ZBL regular season playoffs as the third seed, which meant that we took on the surprise team of the season, the sixth seeded BK Loko Trutnov. All we needed to do is win 3 games in order to advance to the semi-finals of the ZBL playoffs, and game 1 was at our home arena on Saturday, March 3 at 18:00.
We jumped out to a quick 22-16 lead in the first quarter with Kateřina Zohnová putting up 8 of those in the period. We started the second quarter strong with a 10-3 run in the opening 4 minutes. By the end of the period we held a 16-point advantage with a 41-25 lead. The second half started out slow for us, as we did not score a point until over 3 and a half minutes had passed. However, we finished strong and outscored Trutnov 23-8. The fourth quarter was more even, as we only outscored Trutnov 14-9, at that point the game was already won as we strolled to a 78-44 victory. In this game we had 4 players score double digits as Kateřina Zohnová had 14, Marques Webb had 12, Nikola Dudášová had 10 and Michaela Vacková had 10 along with 10 rebounds. This victory put us 1-0 with us heading to Trutnov for game 2 on March 12.
Game 2 began close as it was a back and forth game and was tied with 5 minutes to go in the first. However, we closed the first on an 18-6 run, which gave us a 25-13 lead. The second quarter was back and forth as we only outscored Trutnov by 2. In this quarter, Petra Záplatová put up 8 of those points and looked very sharp. At the start of the second half, Trutnov seemed to have a fire lit under them. If not for a last second three pointer from Nikola Dudášová, Trutnov would have only been behind by 8 entering the fourth instead of 11. This seemed to stop the comeback and we wound up winning 87-73. With that win, we went up 2-0 in the series with the potential to close the series out at home on Thursday, April 13.
The potential closeout game at home did not go the way that the previous two matches went. In the middle of the first quarter Trutnov went on a 10-1 run which seemed to shock the home crowd. At the end of the first quarter, we trailed 32-24. The crowd seemed stunned and shocked at what they were seeing. Every loose ball and call seemed to go Trutnov’s way during this part of the match. In the second quarter, the game went back and forth and we wound up losing by 5 at the half. There was one bright spot in this underwhelming first half as Webb had 16 points and it didn’t seem like Trutnov knew how to deal with her in the paint. The second half did not start well as Trutnov began the period on a 21-10 run, which put them up by 16 midways through the third. At this point in the game, all seemed lost and it looked like we were going to drop game 3 at home. Then, something special happened. Almost like it was out of a movie, we went on an incredible run in the final four minutes of the period playing great defense and scoring the basketball effortlessly. This run had us trailing by only 4 entering the final period pf the game. The fourth quarter was heart-wrenching and you could cut the tension in the arena with a knife as we pushed to comeback ant Trutnov desperately tried to hold on. The game was tight for the entire period, it seemed like every time we pulled close Trutnov would make a ridiculous shot to extend the lead. We finally broke through and took our first lead since early in the first with 3:36 left in the game with a jump shot from Marques Webb. Down the stretch, it got very close, as Trutnov retook the lead on free throws with 1:44 left in the game. However, we were able to counter by getting foulded ourselves and retook the lead at the line. After that, we never looked back as we were able to ice the game with two free throws from Beáta Adamcová with 7 seconds in the game. Once the final buzzer sounded, the score read 96-92 in favor of Zabiny. We had 4 players score in double figures and two of them wound up getting a double-double. Karolína Malečkován had 10 points while Kateřina Zohnová got 17, Michaela Vacková had 11 along with 10 rebounds, and Marques Webb had 22 points on 11-11 shots and grabbed 11 rebounds. Once the game was finished, we breathed a massive sigh of relief and we were ready for the second round of the playoffs. Zabiny will play the winner of the KP Brno vs BLK Slavia Praha series on a day which has not been determined yet.
(Photo credit: Bohuslav Stloukal)