HARTFORD — Doug Herring watched his team reach the brink of the championship Monday. He was determined to be there Wednesday to play a part in closing the deal.
"I twisted my ankle in the Elite Eight game," Herring said, after scoring 20 points to help Def Jam Hot 93.7 clinch the Greater Hartford Pro-Am championship Wednesday night. "I did a lot of icing, rehabbing, warm baths, stretching, just trying to get back. I'm happy I was able to play. I figured this would probably be the last game. I wanted to make sure I was on the court, fighting with my guys."
With Herring, its perennial top-scorer, back in action, Hot 93.7 had all its components, regulars and ringers, and dominated Cambyland, 141-128 to sweep the series in two games.
"I was saying before the game," coach Donald Herring Jr. said, "if Doug plays and is anywhere near what he could be, I might as well take the trophy now. With him on that team? Why we playing the game, almost. It's kind of unfair."
Herring, who took home trophies as the Pro-Am's top guard and assist leader during the regular season, entered in the first quarter, with the game still close. Then Chaz Williams, a star at UMass and veteran of the NBA D-League, arrived as the second quarter was beginning and was inserted into the game.
"He was the energy we needed," Donald Herring Jr. said. Add another for UMass star Gary Forbes, who scored 33 points, and it was just too much for Cambyland, which was playing without its point guard, Anthony Jernigan. But Hartford-based Cambyland fought hard, as Roosevelt Lee scored 34 points and Charles Easterling had 34 with 19 rebounds.
"Yes, we did. Yes, we did," said coach Bruce Jernigan. "We did what we could with the limited amount we had. It's kind of tough right now. We had some bad matchups they took advantage of."
Hot 93.7, the regular-season champs for the third summer in a row, had lost in the finals in 2014 and 2015, for which the group, largely from the Hudson Valley, was chided as having the "Buffalo Bills syndrome." On Monday night, they found themselves trailing by 20 points in the middle of the second quarter, but they dominated from there on, building a 30-point lead before breezing through the final minutes.
"It feels great, man," said Doug Herring, who plays professionally in Canada. "We had two opportunities previous to this, we fell short in Game 3, so it feels good to get it over with in game 2. Get it done, go home."
Hot 93.7 led by two at the end of the first quarter, then Williams checked in and picked up the tempo to build a 10-point lead. In the third quarter, East Hartford's Jerome Harris, who joined the team midseason and was MVP of the playoffs, completed a three-point play to make it a 15-point game. Herring hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 99-80.
"[The newcomers] made a huge contribution," Doug Herring said. "Offensively and defensively, they were able to knock down shots and it made it easier for the rest of us."
In the fourth quarter, Forbes hit four three-pointers to help stretch the lead to 30 points, 121-91. By then, Donald Herring Jr., normally among the most animated coaches in the Pro-Am, was able to sit back and enjoy it, and Hot 93.7 fans and family that made the trip were able to start the celebration as the locals began leaving the building. Hot 93.7's players doused their coach with ice cold water as he claimed the trophy.
"I'm proud of the guys," Donald Herring Jr. said.
Doug Herring had six assists, Harris five. Williams and Nate Gause, who took home the "Mr. Highlight" trophy, each scored 22 and Davonne Dunlap added 18.
"It feels pretty good," said Harris, who is going into his senior season at Southern New Hampshire, "being my first time in the Pro-Am championship. Stepped up ,made some big plays for the team, happy to win."
Danny Lawhorn was the Pro-Am's regular season MVP and scoring leader; Mike Anderson the leading rebounder, Anthony Jernigan led in steals and Marcus James in blocks. Barbara Raisner and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin received plaques to recognize their support for the Pro-Am, which completed its 19th season.