Not exactly one you want to display on the mantle, but the Sioux Falls Skyforce close the season by easing past the Grand Rapids Drive 107-106.

The final seconds were a little more hairy than the home team and fans would have liked, but Sioux Falls (40-10) established a new wins record with most of the starters watching from the bench. However, those reserves deserve a lot of credit for building a late lead that almost slipped away.

While trailing 98-88, Grand Rapids (21-29) put a run together that closed the gap to 100-96 with 2 minutes left. A bucked by Larry Drew II with 23.8 on the clock made it 104-98, however the Drive had some fuel left in the tank as Ralston Turner hit two three-pointers and the ‘Force missed 5 free throws in the closing moments.

A botched inbounds pass with 3.3 seconds left allowed a desperation baseline jumper by Bruce Massey which glanced off the backboard and eventually out of play as time expired. Coach Dan Craig feels that overall the final result was all that mattered.

“Winners find a way to win. Sometimes it’s not pretty. You take what you can from your experiences. There’s nothing better than game situations to gain experience. For those guys to find a way to win, I’m proud of them.”

From the beginning of the second quarter through the start of the fourth quarter, Grand Rapids set the scoring pace eventually building the lead to eleven. Sioux Falls was hanging tight with no Jarnell Stokes who was getting a night off to get prepared for the post season. Keith Benson and Briante Weber were the only members of the home team to log more than 30 minutes of action.

Every point was precious and Toure’ Murry found opportunity when given the chance to atone for a couple of missed free throws by dropping one off to Keith Benson for a dunk with 13 seconds to go.

“It was a designed play. Coach draws up great plays for us and we executed that one for a big score. Next week when we go against Westchester, we need to play 48 minutes. Every possession counts and they are going to come out full throttle.”

Eight members of the Drive had at least 10 points with Kammeon Holsey tops with 19 and Turner with 15. For Sioux Falls, Benson and Rodney McGruder finished with 16 points and Weber had 15 counters with 7 steals. The 7 steals ties two other players for the most steals in a D-League game this season.

The playoff schedule is set for the first round between the Skyforce and the Westchester Knicks. Game One is Tuesday night at the Westchester County Center with the next two games slated for the Sanford Pentagon. Game Two is Friday night and Game Three will be Sunday if necessary.


See Also: