In the first of two encounters on consecutive nights, the Sioux Falls Skyforce captured game one with a 117-108 triumph over the Grand Rapids Drive on Friday night at the Sanford Pentagon.

For most of February, Sioux Falls (21-17) had been slumping at home. Five losses in six games in front of the home crowd during the year’s shortest month gave way to a better effort to start March.

Midway through the first quarter the game was tied at 14. From there, the Drive (17-20) were mainly in the ‘Force’s rear-view mirror only closing the gap late after trailing by 24.

Skyforce center Khem Birch listed the defensive intensity as the main ingredient for the win. “They shot 40 percent in the first half and in the second half they shot 46 (percent). Lately teams were shooting above 50 percent against us. This time we locked in and got the win.” Grabbing the misses also helped against the Drive. “That’s my job on this team. Me, Shawn (Jones), B.J. (Mullens) and the guards are focused on getting the boards.”

Statistically Birch was the best boarder with 12 rebounds and 5 points while Scotty Hopson paved a 23-point path. In his first NBADL game on assignment from Miami, Zoran Dragic produced 22 points with limited time to learn the ropes. Birch said the Slovenian picked up a lot in a short time. “He’s been a great teammate so far. He’s very talented and he’s in the league for a reason.” If you are not familiar with what Dragic can do check the video below. To round out the perimeter attack, Larry Drew finished with 18 points and 9 assists and Andre Dawkins had 16 counters.

On the Drive side, Diante Garrett kept the foot on the pedal with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while NBADL vet Stephon Hannah notched 16 counters and Kevin Murphy added 15 points. These same two teams meet again in Sioux Falls with the expected arrival of former Jackrabbit Nate Wolters in the Grand Rapids lineup on Saturday night.