July 5, 2012 - International Basketball League (IBL) - Bellingham Slam
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -The Olympia Reign opened the 2012 International Basketball League playoffs in impressive fashion with a 101-89 upset victory over the #3 ranked Edmonton Energy on Friday at Whatcom Pavilion.
After finishing strong in a overtime victory against Edmonton on Tuesday in the regular season finale for both teams, the Reign displayed the same tenacity to start their first-round re-match. Olympia used a 15-7 run in the final four minutes of the first quarter to build a 28-19 lead.
A competitive second quarter saw Olympia build their lead to 14 at halftime, at 57-43.
The talented Energy did show they weren't going to be put away easily as they rallied to draw the deficit down to three, at 67-64, with 3:11 left in the third quarter on seven quick points from forward Robbie Sihota.
In the fourth quarter, Reign guard Mike Ward rose to the occasion and put an end to Edmonton's comeback hopes with a pair of big shots that pushed Olympia's lead to 16, at 91-75 with 6:47 left. Poor shooting down the stretch for Edmonton prevented them for putting much of a dent in to the lead the rest of the way.
Ward led Olympia with 27 points while newcomer Gjio Bain posted a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
"Mike Ward has been stepping up for us all year long. He is a really good all-around player, and we know he's going to get us points consistently," commented Reign head coach Steve Smothers about his veteran guard from Evergreen State.
Guard Curtis Nash paced Edmonton with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Troy Gottselig added 16 and 11. Sihota finished with 14 points. The Energy struggled offensively as a team, shooting just 32.7 percent from the floor.
The Olympia Reign now advance to face the #2 seed Portland Chinooks in a semi-final match on Friday. Portland was idle Thursday after earning a first-round bye by virtue of their regular season record.
"I like our chances against Portland. I think we will be able to compete with them a lot better now that we have a big guy. Since we've been able to get [Gjio Bain] we've been playing a pretty high level, and I like our guards against anybody." The other semi-final game on Friday pits the #4 ranked Vancouver Volcanoes against the #5 Salem Soldiers, with the winner advancing to face the host Bellingham Slam on Friday at 7:30pm.
For more information, contact the Slam at (360) 734-SLAM or visit the International Basketball League's website at www.ibl.com.