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PBL Weekly Report

April 6, 2009 - Premier Basketball League (PBL) News Release

PBL PLAY-IN GAME: April 1, 2009 - Wilmington Sea Dawgs 96, Vermont Frost Heaves 90,

Joe and Barbara Schwartz Center, Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, N.C.

Although the PBL's three division winners received automatic playoff bids, the Vermont Frost Heaves and the Wilmington Sea Dawgs, both possessing the best records among non-division winners, faced each other in a single "play-in" game to determine the PBL's fourth and final postseason team.

The Vermont Frost Heaves, riding a seven-game winning streak to finish the regular season, traveled to the Schwartz Center to take on the Wilmington Sea Dawgs. The last time Wilmington was in the playoffs, they were knocked out of the postseason by the lower-seeded Maryland Nighthawks; this time, however, the Dawgs jumped out to an early20-point halftime lead, and ballooned that lead on a Kris Clark 3-pointer to 70-44 with 8:00 left in the third quarter.

Vermont clawed back from the deficit, outscoring Wilmington 22-3 in the rest of the quarter. "The first half was the best half of basketball we've played," said coach Dale Kuhl to the Wilmington Star-News. "They fought, we surrendered a little bit. But at the end of the game, we made plays when we needed to and we got stops."

"It was one of those perfect storms," Vermont coach Will Voigt said to the Barre Montpelier Times-Argus. "We couldn't make anything, and they couldn't miss in the first half. We made a few strategic adjustments, but it was obviously not the way you want to start a game on the road."

With two minutes left in the game, Vermont had trimmed Wilmington's lead to 89-88. Then Brian Leggett nailed a dunk, to put Wilmington up by three points. He then hit four three-pointers, and the Sea Dawgs pulled together their first PBL playoff victory, 96-90. "We gotta do a better job of closing out teams. That's a problem we've had all year, just getting in droughts and not knowing how to stop the bleeding sometimes," said Leggett. "We knew they were going to come back and they made a real valiant effort, but we were just a little bit tougher tonight to pull it out."

"When it got to 26 in the third we started chipping away at it," Voigt said. "The guys decided to buckle down defensively and were able to get out in transition and get a couple easy buckets. To cut it to 1 with a minute-and-a-half left is impressive. But at that point you need things to go your way, a bounce or a whistle, and it just didn't today."

Leggett led five scorers in double digits as Alex Harper added 18, Kris Clark had 14 and Cedric McGinnis and Joseph King each scored 10. Benson Callier and Joe Williams led Vermont with 14 points apiece.

The Frost Heaves' 37 first-half markers are the fewest ever scored in a PBL postseason game.

PBL SEMIFINALS, GAME 1: April 2, 2009 - Rochester Razorsharks 125, Manchester Millrats 110,

The Fieldhouse at Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, N.H.

The last time Rochester's Keith Friel stepped onto a basketball court in New Hampshire, he was in in his senior year at Virginia. Now a member of the Rochester Razorsharks, Friel drained four 3-pointers and netted 23 points, as the Razorsharks scored a 125-110 Game 1 win in the Premier Basketball League's best-of three semifinal series.

"That's Keith Friel," Millrats coach Rob Spon said to the Manchester Union Leader. "He isn't their team captain and an MVP for nothing."

"It was a little stressful before the game, making sure everyone had tickets," said Friel, 31, who had 100-plus family and friends attend the game. "But once the game started, everything seemed to flow."

The defending champs, however, proved far more than a one-man team. Six players scored double figures for the Razorsharks. Sammy Monroe's team-high 26 points paced a balanced attack.

"We hadn't done a good enough job defending like we needed too in the first half," Rochester coach Rod Baker said to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "We talked at halftime and we came out and started communicating and getting stops in the second half that led to baskets for us."

Rochester hit six 3-pointers in the third quarter, with two each from Monroe, Keith Friel and Jerice Crouch, and used a 13-3 run in the final 2:32 to take a 27-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Desmond Ferguson (15 points) knotted the score with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer well beyond the arc. But Tommy Mitchell (31 points) provided the hottest hand for the Millrats. He netted 23 first-half points on 9-for-11 shooting.

The 125 points was the most allowed all season by Manchester, which led the PBL in scoring defense this season.

PBL SEMIFINALS, GAME 1: April 3, 2009 - Wilmington Sea Dawgs 112, Battle Creek Knights 108,

Joe and Barbara Schwartz Center, Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, N.C.

The Sea Dawgs' defense helped keep Wilmington undefeated in this playoff series, as the North Carolina hoopsters took a 112-108 win over Battle Creek at Cape Fear Community College's Schwartz Center.

"Defense. We've got to be more consistent defensively," coach Dale Kuhl said to the Wilmington Star-News. "If we guard the way we're capable of playing, of guarding, and rebounding and get it out in transition, we'll be fine. But it begins and ends for us in that end."

The Knights cut Wilmington's lead from 15 points late in the third to four early in the fourth. By the end of the period, Battle Creek had cut it two at 106-104 but Wilmington made six free throws and grabbed key rebounds late to seal the win.

"When we get up and we get leads, we sometimes get a little passive on certain things," guard Kris Clark said.

Added forward Cedric McGinnis, "They're well-coached and they're going to make runs. And one thing for us is we've got to keep our run going. When we take three or four minutes off, we look real bad."

McGinnis, for his part, looked good most of the night as he had a season-high 35 points to go with his 12 rebounds. The Sea Dawgs' most seasoned player set the example for a team with several first-year players. They have depth, but lack experience at this time of year.

"It was his best game he's played probably all year. Cedric was fantastic," Kuhl said. "Offensively, he was very good. And then he rebounded for us tonight, which was even more vital."

Kris Clark scored 19 points, Alex Harper added 21, Brian Leggett had 12 and Jermaine Williams scored 10. Kadiri Richard grabbed 12 rebounds.

For the Knights, Rashi Johnson had 24 points to lead five double-digit scorers.

PBL SEMIFINALS, GAME 2: April 5, 2009 - Manchester Millrats 116, Rochester Razorsharks 110,

Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial, Rochester, N.Y.

The Manchester Millrats turned an 18 point deficit in the third quarter to a six point, 116-110 victory to force Game 3 in the PBL Semifinals. The Rochester Razorsharks lost for just the second time at home this year and second time in the past 58 home games. The Millrats were led by Desmond Ferguson's 21 points to go along with four other players in double figures. Keith Friel led the Razorsharks and all scorers with 27 points.

Manchester came out in the first playing tough defense with their playoff lives on the line and kept the game close taking an early four point lead. With 6:51 remaining in the opening quarter down 14-10 with the shot clock under five, Keith Friel hit a fade away 3-pointer and was fouled in the process on his way to complete the four-point play to tie it up.

The entire quarter went back and forth with ten lead changes and Rochester closed out the first with a 31-29 lead after Friel hit his fourth 3-pointer of the quarter. Friel led all scorers with 15 points.

The second quarter started with a different story as the Razorsharks went on a 10-0 run to jump out to a 41-29 lead with just 1:40 into the quarter after a 3-pointer from Derik Hollyfield. The rest of the quarter was not for the faint of heart with plenty of rough play between the two teams. With 2:21 left in the half, Manchester took advantage of a technical foul on Lincoln Smith and turned a ten point Rochester lead to pull within five. Despite the Millrats push, the Razorsharks closed out the first half with a seven point, 63-56 lead. First half leading scorers included Friel with 17 points and Manchester's Desmond Ferguson with 12 points.

The Millrats held a slight higher shooting percentage in the first half, but thanks to ten 3-pointers, the Razorsharks were able to go into the half with the seven point lead.

Manchester came out in the third sinking a 3-pointer, but a technical foul, this time by the Millrats' Marc Mazur, allowed Keith Friel to make both free throws to extend Rochester's lead to eight. The technical foul was the 'Sharks catalyst for an 11-0 run with 8:12 left in the quarter to take a 74-59 lead.

With an 18 point lead, Rochester fell into a trap of taking poor shots and combined with Manchester's number one defense, the Millrats went on a 16-3 run to pull within five, 83-78 with 3:29 to play in the quarter. The rest of the quarter was back and forth and the Razorsharks were able to hold on to a slim five point lead, 91-87.

The Millrats came out in the fourth quarter the same way they did in the third with a 3-pointer, but this time a steal and a basket by Al Stewart, Manchester took back the lead, 92-91 for the first time since 1:09 left in the first quarter. The Millrats started on a 7-0 run to take a 94-91 lead with 10:26 remaining. The Razorsharks were able to tie it up at 96 after a free throw from Steve Hailey with just over six minutes remaining.

Manchester continued to show why they have the league's top defense down the stretch and took back the lead up by six, 106-100 with 4:02 remaining. But with 2:13 remaining, Sammy Monroe made a steal and forced a foul to tie it up after making one of two from the line. Despite back-to-back defensive holds by Rochester, Manchester's Desmond Ferguson hit a 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining to take a 111-108 lead. Rochester had some chances to come back with James Reaves getting to the free throw line, but missed both baskets and Lincoln Glass' steal with nine seconds left virtually closed out the game as Manchester finished off the 116-110 victory.

PBL SEMIFINALS, GAME 2: April 5, 2009 - Battle Creek Knights 111, Wilmington Sea Dawgs 90,

Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek, Mich.

Within the friendly confines of Kellogg Arena, the Battle Creek Knights rebounded from a Game 1 loss to totally dominate the Wilmington Sea Dawgs 111-90, evening the best-of-three series at 1 game apiece.

To make sure the Knights were still alive to play tonight, Battle Creek had to step up and get a playoff win on Sunday against a Wilmington squad it has lost to twice this year - including in Game 1 of the series on the road.

"You get home court advantage for a reason and when you get these home playoff games you have to take care of business," Knights forward Kenny Langhorne said to the Battle Creek Enquirer. "We are undefeated at home and I don't think they can beat us here."

Battle Creek pretty much finished the game off late in the third period when Deon Rose hit the third of his three 3-pointers in the period, followed by a reverse-dunk by Langhorne to make it 76-48 lead with 5:38 left in the quarter - finishing off a 23-9 spurt since intermission

"The guys feed off this home court and it showed tonight. Now we get another chance to play - we're still alive," Knights coach Terry Sare said.

Wilmington came out of the gate quick going on an 9-2 run to start the contest, but Battle Creek would fight back going on a 13-0 run of their own to take a six point lead. Battle Creek would not surrender the lead again and would lead by six after one; 14 at half; 19 after three and would come out on top with a 21 point victory.

Battle Creek, who shot 58 percent from the field, got 18 from Frank Phillips and a dozen each from Rashi Johnson and Chris Gaines. The only area where the Knights did not have an advantage over Wilmington was at the line where Battle Creek shot only 67.6 percent on 23 of 34.

Wilmington was led by Cedric McGinnis who had 16 with Alex Harper contributing 14 points. Wilmington struggled from the field shooting 45 percent.


1/4/09, Jonas Pierre, Quebec vs. Manchester, 12 pts, 14 rebs, 11 blocks


Jan 4 - Brian Silverhorn, Halifax

Jan 11 - AJ Millen, Augusta

Jan 18 - Cedric McGinnis, Wilmington

Jan 25 - James "Mook" Reaves, Rochester

Feb 1 - Rob Sanders, Halifax

Feb 8 - Kris Clark, Wilmington

Feb 15 - Desmond Ferguson, Manchester

Feb 22 - Randy Gill, Detroit

Mar 1 - Randy Gill, Detroit

Mar 8 - Kris Clark, Wilmington

Mar 15 - Stanley Thomas, Chicago

Mar 22 - Tyrone Rayson, Buffalo

Mar 29 - Kenny Langhorne, Battle Creek


January - Terry Sare, Battle Creek

February - Rob Spon, Manchester

March - Rod Baker, Rochester


A "Four Score" shot occurs when a player completes a successful field goal from beyond halfcourt. The team receives four points for such a basket, while, for statistical purposes, the player is credited with two completed two-point field goals. A list of all successful "Four Scores" for the 2008-09 season are listed below.

1/2/09, Willie Mitchell, Detroit v. Mid-Michigan (4th quarter)

1/8/09, Alex Harper, Wilmington at Battle Creek (4th quarter)

1/9/09, Randy Gill, Montreal at Vermont (3rd quarter)

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