Altitude advance to title game
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The Asheville Altitude got a key steal and a pair of clutch free-throws late from guard Joe Forte to hold on for a 90-86 win over the Huntsville Flight in the semifinal round of the 2005 NBDL Championship Tournament presented by Delta Airlines.
The win moves the Altitude closer to obtaining the league's first back-to-back post-season championships as the No. 2 seed Altitude will travel to face the top-seeded Columbus Riverdragons in the title game Saturday.
Columbus advanced to the championship game by knocking off Roanoke 96-89 in the league's other semifinal game. Asheville (28-21) got one of its most balanced attacks of the year to end the season of the Flight (27-22).
Tip off for the NBDL's fourth championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Columbus Civic Center.
Forte paced seven Altitude players in double-figures finishing with 16 points. Tim Bowers added 15 points while Terrence Shannon chipped in with 12 points. Ron Slay, Cedric Suitt, Tony Kitchings and Lenny Stokes all scored ten points each.
Huntsville's Ronald Blackshear led all scorers with 19 points going 9-of-16 from the field. Jason Miskiri chipped in with 16 points and ten assists while Rodney Bias added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
"We didn't want this to be the last game of the year," said Suitt, who was 5-of-5 from the field with three rebounds. "We all pulled together at the end to pull out this win. It was a great effort tonight, but, we still have one more game to win next week."
A repeat of last year's championship match-up, Asheville and Huntsville provided the boisterous and raucous crowd in attendance with yet another thriller.
Tied at 83 in the fourth quarter, Bowers knocked down a three-point basket with 19 seconds left to give Asheville a three point advantage. After a steal and dunk by Forte extended Asheville's lead to five points with nine seconds left, Huntsville's Austin Nichols nailed a three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left on the clock to pull the Flight to within two points at 88-86. Forte would then seal the Altitude's return trip to the championship game by knocking down both of his late-game free-throws for the final score.
"It's never easy when Huntsville comes to town," said Altitude head coach Joey Meyer. "I'm really proud of the way all the guys played down the stretch. Both teams came out ready to play and made it a very exciting game. I would have loved to have been a fan watching this game from the stands."
Asheville shot 41.8 percent (28-for-67) from the field to Huntsville's 45 percent (36-for-80). The Altitude also out-rebounded Huntsville 51-45 while the Flight recorded 11 blocks to Asheville's two.
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NBA G League Stories from April 16, 2005
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