Stokes Return Builds Foundation for Skyforce Win
The Sioux Falls Skyforce were able to repel multiple attacks from Fort Wayne to get back on the winning track 109-104 on Friday night at the Sanford Pentagon.
In a very similar fashion that played out the night before, the ‘Force (18-4) were able to build a 15-point lead in the middle portion of the game. Fort Wayne (11-11) whittled down the lead to a single point with just under nine minutes remaining.
Unlike the previous night, Sioux Falls had Jarnell Stokes at their disposal who returned from an illness to post a season high 28 points and racked up 15 rebounds. The Mad Ants were unable to reclaim the lead as a crucial 9-0 Skyforce run pushed the lead to 11 points before time ran out on the visitors.
For Stokes, he took advantage of the opportunity in front of him by maintaining enough stamina to last for 38 minutes on the court. Stokes credits the work on defense for his high usage rate. “Just within the flow of the game, I was very aggressive playing defense and rebounding. That’s part of the reason Coach left me out there. I did feel like I was a little rusty at the start, but I wanted to bring energy and play hard.”
Making his debut for the Mad Ants was a familiar face in the form of John Lucas III who has multiple years of NBA experience and was also in training camp with the Miami Heat. Skyforce Head Coach Dan Craig worked closely with Lucas III and respects him tremendously. “He’s a great leader from the point guard position. He is a shot-maker and extremely hard worker and I wish the best for him. I just don’t like playing against him. He’s a good pick-up for (Fort Wayne).”
How about this for a first impression? Lucas III led the Mad Ants in scoring (21), rebounding (6), assists (6) and steals (3). Good pick-up indeed.
The element of turnovers played a huge role in the makeup of the contest. The Skyforce withstood the ability of the Mad Ants to induce mistakes. “We had 44 turnovers against these guys in the first two games. They scored quite a few points off those turnovers.”
Overall Sioux Falls committed 21 turnovers on Friday night that converted to 29 points. Considering the context of a second night in a back-to-back set Craig felt the effort was evident. “We got in late last night from a bus ride and I felt they played all 48 minutes. All the loose balls in the fourth quarter, for the most part we got. That was the difference was the energy and the effort and I’m proud of that group.”
For Sioux Falls, Tuesday night will offer another encounter with Iowa at the Sanford Pentagon. Meanwhile, Fort Wayne will mark time until Friday for the first of two games at Maine.