Albany, NY– The Albany Legends took the court tonight against last night’s rival the Kankakee Soldiers. They started out strong heading up a 7-0 run. All 7 points were scored by Damone Morris. Although this was a slow start for the Soldiers, they would not be counted out of the game so soon.
DeAndre Thomas proved to be unstoppable when on the court. He took control of the game when the team was struggling. He had numerous back to back buckets and kept pace up and down the court. He led in tonight’s scoring with 33 points. Tiki Mayben was also ready to get things rolling. He has a spot beyond the arc in the right corner he positions himself in and that is all she wrote, ball seems to sink every time. Coach Barry Bradford of the Soldiers saw this trend and related it to players. Unfortunately for them, Mayben got in another sweet 3 before the adjustment was made. Coach Bradford was looking to “attack and take him out of his comfort zone.”
The physicality in this game was apparent throughout. Coach Bradford commented, “first half I thought our guys really wanted to win, but I think that they thought being tough was fighting and really getting gritty.” It’s basketball it will get chippy at times, however silly fouls and overwhelming emotions can drain a player and the whole team from accomplishing the task at hand. Ryan Edwards the 6’5″ Soldiers guard, enabled himself to stay in control and aide the Soldiers in maintaining a close game even though he had his emotions riding high. I also think that Zach Ramey had a heavy hand in controlling key rebounds and assisting shots.
The end of the second quarter did come at an ideal time. The refs (should I dare say) could have choked up on the whistles for a bit and let the men play. This caused some serious frustration on the Soldiers part, as well as not being able to fully gain control of the game.
After the half, both teams came out looking more collected. Fresh legs didn’t last long. Chris Grant the silent leader started strong. Coach Ben Smith of the Legends said, “Chris Grant came out played good early, as he got going and time passed he started to fade on me a bit. He’s really my defensive force against 32 and there goes Edwards, he went off.” You ain’t kidding Coach. With less defensive pressure brought by the Legends the Soldiers were able to rally back. Billy Baptist and Ryan Edwards ignited the spark in the team, not in the “chippy” way but used the aggression out on the back of the glass and through the hoop.
Lloyd Johnson 5’11″ guard for the Legends, also came out with plenty of open looks behind the arc. I mean he hit multiple 3s in the 3rd quarter. 16 of his total points came in the 3rd alone! This was something that hurt the Soldiers the previous night, a lot of unanswered 3 point shots. Unfortunately for the Legends, the Soldiers answered right back and gained a 1 point lead 87-86.
Ryan Edwards continued to pick away at the Legends defense scoring 12 points in a 3 minute span during the 4th quarter. Another key were free throws. The Soldiers capitalized on every opportunity they had. Part of this was also a team effort. Edwards says, “the chemistry started coming together in the 4th quarter.”
The two teams meet tomorrow for the final game starting at 6pm at CBA. The Legends are gaining Lloyd Clinton, who is taking over for Anthony Bruin. A pair of fresh legs and a former Legend, he should be active and very adaptable to the team. Don’t think this is an advantage by any means for the Legends, this Soldiers team collectively have positive attitudes and a strong drive to win. Coach Bradford says, “we have a theme that says we are one.” It will take more than a pair of fresh legs to defeat this spunky team.