Legends put Soldiers to Rest

Legends put Soldiers to Rest

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Albany, NY- The Rubber game between the Albany Legends and Kankakee Soldiers kicked off tonight at CBA. The Legends welcomed Lloyd Clinton to the court but the starting lineup remained the same.

Damone Morris found DeAndre Thomas for an easy 2 and it was business as usual for the Legends who put up the first points of the game. The Soldiers took a bit of time to find cohesion and their shots in the first minutes. The lack of offensive rebounding and early turnovers would be the downfall of the Legends and the spark for the Soldiers in the first half. Lloyd Johnson pushed the ball hard up the court and relied on Chris Grant under the bucket to make a move. However, Grant was heavily guarded. The Soldiers swarmed underneath the basket when the Legends tried to push through. They left the the arc and beyond open, but the Legends were unable to make a 3 fall.

The Legnds and The Soldiers battled in the rubber game of their 3 game weekend series (Photo: Anthony DiMoro)

Coach Ben Smith mentioned after yesterdays game he needed defense out of his players and he was not getting it. Soldiers Ryan Edwards and Billy Baptist took control quickly. Baptist with authority “baptized” some Legends tonight dunking over DeAndre Thomas. Not an easy shot to make considering Thomas is 6’8″. He shouted out, “I told you I was gonna baptize someone today!” After the first quarter the Soldiers led 26-19.

EJ Gallup who could not get a shot off last night, at least not the flying 3s like the previous night, made up for it. He managed a quick 3 to start the second quarter. Scott Morton and Ryan Edwards were tangled up together the entire second quarter and players were overly aggressive with one another. Midway through the second Billy Baptist hooks up with Harrison who didn’t make the shot but the key is their were plenty of orange jerseys under the bucket ready to make the recovery and another chance at it. The Soldiers played as a TEAM in every sense of the way. They had trust in one another. Baptist and Edwards can easily carry the team, but they are assisted and pass plenty to the rest of the players.

EJ Gallup, Legends 6’4″ guard from Coastal Carolina is truly astonishing with his 3 point accuracy. He squares up quickly and whether he gets a good look or not he is able to make these awesome 3 point shots over and over again. As stated before, the Soldiers heavily guarded underneath the basket and left the arc open. The Legends struggled at first but Gallup changed that for them. By the end of the second quarter the Soldiers led 47-53.

The first half of the game, the Legends were out rebounded. They were at times careless with the ball. Defensively they seemed uninterested. Tiki Mayben even said, “this is their show man, I’m just here.” Mind you this was as the Soldiers were driving the ball to the basket. Where was the effort, the hustle, the drive? The Soldiers showed more intensity, boxed out players, and overall had a higher team morale. The Legends were lucky they were only down by 6! If they were going to make a comeback extreme measures would be needed.

Changes were in fact made. There was the absence of Mayben for the rest of the game to start, certainly an extreme measure to take but the team worked together and showed far more drive even with this adjustment. DeAndre Thomas was in serious foul trouble during the third quarter. He had 5 total and it was still early. Lloyd Johnson’s quick feet created turnovers and he started hitting 3s. He made 4 of his 9 attempts overall. The Legends were making their comeback and the Soldiers couldn’t come up with enough answers. The Legends were matching all of the Soldiers buckets and adding some of their own to the equation. No super fancy dunking here, just making sure the points landed on the board. FIRST AND ONLY PRIORITY!

Soldiers' Billy Baptist gets ready to check into the game and get into the thick of the action (Photo:Anthony DiMoro)

Lloyd Clinton was a great addition to the team. He wanted to be their, he was ready to contribute, and he put up 18 points. Almost all of them came in the third and fourth quarters. The defense came in the second half as we all hoped it would. The Legends pull out a 120-106 win over the Soldiers.

I am still concerned with offensive rebounding and it is something that needs to take shape for this Legends team. They had a total of 9…..9!!!! Again 9!!!! Free throws are key points to a game and out of 22 attempts they managed 15, also unacceptable. What did ignite in the second half was the defense. Lloyd Johnson alone had 5 steals. The team total was 23! They dismembered the early groove that the Soldiers had in the first half creating turnovers. With DeAndre Thomas unable to be as aggressive due to numerous fouls, the rest of the team really stepped up to the plate. Thomas gives credit to Johnson. “He held the team together, he got us through today and you need to make sure people know that,” he happily stated. Much credit should go to Lloyd Johnson and Lloyd Clinton. I bet these 2 will be double trouble in future games. Johnson had 20 points and Gallup right behind him with 17.

The Legends will host the Gary Splash April 29th at CBA. Game starts at 7pm. See you all at game time! GO LEGENDS!