Blueprint Works Again as Skyforce Late Rally Shocks Westchester
Owning the fourth quarter has become commonplace for the Sioux Falls Skyforce as it leads them to another win 128-117 over the Westchester Knicks Friday night at the Sanford Pentagon.
Credit Westchester (16-12) for performing offensively in ways that have not been done to this point in the season against Sioux Falls. No team had shot better than 50 percent in a game (58 percent), scored over 100 by the end of the third quarter (103) nor allowed 40 points in a quarter (40 in period 3) until this night.
Jimmer Fredette supplied 20 of those points in the third frame on 8-9 shooting from the floor. Skyforce Coach Dan Craig felt that a lot was a testament to Fredette’s scoring abilities. “There’s guys out there (like Jimmer) once they hit a couple that rim is an ocean. He made some tough shots by shot-faking, stepping through and hitting a three and a couple two’s. There’s a few things we could have done a little bit better. We just stayed with it.”
With one minute left in the third quarter, the Skyforce (22-4) were down 10 but cut the lead in half with Jabril Trawick hitting from in close and far away. It was just enough to stay within striking distance. Craig saw no need to panic as late deficits are nothing new. “We had been there before in our Grand Rapids game and our Canton game. So we just had to grind to stay together in the huddles, execute offensively and clean up some things defensively.”
The fangs came out with 8:16 to go as 18 straight points in a five-minute binge dealt the crushing blow. An unlikely source of that offensive execution was Nigel Spikes who was the next man up after Keith Benson was sent to the bench with five fouls. Spikes got four post feeds for dunks to push the lead to 13 points which delighted the 3,024 in attendance. “It was like opening night. They were the sixth man on the court and they helped us in ways we couldn’t even think of. We had our ups and downs (tonight), but we found our way out of a tough situation.”
Fredette finished with 36 points fresh off his NBADL All-Star selection earlier in the day. Westchester’s Jordan Bachynski though not an initial All-Star selection is among the top prospects and brought home 17 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Sioux Falls had three players chose as All-Stars, though two did not suit up for the team tonight. DeAndre Liggins is currently injured and Jarnell Stokes is with the Miami Heat. The other Skyforce All-Star is guard Tre Kelley who put together another solid 17 points with 5 assists. Meanwhile numerous players posted season highs in various categories starting with Bubu Palo (28 points), Byron Mullens (16 rebounds), Spikes (14 points) and ending with Briante Weber (13 points). The same two teams will battle again on Saturday night at the Pentagon.
With the win, Sioux Falls has posted 11 straight home victories which last occurred over the conclusion of the 04-05 season and carried over into the 05-06 campaign. The 22-4 overall record also matches the best start through 26 games in team history which dates back to the 96-97 team that finished 47-9.