Steel City Yellow Jackets are ABA champions with 123-118 win over Team Trouble
Last updated 5/12/2022 at 10:24am
After a 123-118 win over the Number One Ranked Team Trouble, Pittsburgh's Steel City Yellow Jackets, who play their home games at A Giving Heart Community Center in Allentown, are now American Basketball Association (ABA) Champions.
The contest at the John and Joanne Phelps Gymnasium on the St. Frances Academy campus in Baltimore was a hard-fought contest that saw the Yellow Jackets take a substantial lead over a slow-to-get-started Stockton, California team, and then witness that lead slip away. But as Coach Ace Pippens' team has done all season...they pulled it out in the final seconds in a highly-emotional affair.
Co-Captain Tone Reddic, Sr. got the game off to a promising start with the first jumper of the evening. Ultimate tournament MVP Kenny Holmes hit a 3D shot that added three points and Reddic posted two more to make it a quick lead.
Pittsburgh's Tim Jackson came off of the bench and started to get hot. He hit 8 unanswered points and Brandon Johnson scored to make it 30-12.
Holmes and Reddic came on strong in the opening moments of the second quarter--with Reddic hitting a crucial 3D four-pointer, and the Yellow Jackets lead expanded to 52-29 with 7:50 to go in the half.
Gardner hit a 3D triple and Wofford added a bucket to trim the lead to 20. The two guards continued to go toe-to-toe with Tim Jackson and Brandon Johnson throughout the final moments of the half.
The third quarter began with the Pacific Division Champion's Lewis Stallworth, Christian Williams, and Josh Allen making noise. The Top-Ranked team, which looked moribund at times in the first quarter, started to play like the team in which their team name was earned.
Claude Scott, Jr. and Tim Jackson (with a spirited three-pointer) pushed the lead back to 10. Williams and Dominique Barnes each hit jumpers from behind the line, but Scott hit free throws when fouled and scored an impressive dunk as time ran out in the third. The Yellow Jackets were up 96-86.
Brandon Johnson scored five unanswered points as the fourth quarter began and added another shot to make it 104-91 with 10:21 to go. After a Claude Scott dunk, Team Trouble, and specifically Lewis Stallworth and Sam Bauer, were inspired. Bauer hit a four-point 3D to quickly get back into the game, 106-101 with about 7:50 to go. Reddic and Holmes worked to stretch the lead to 113-101.
Team Trouble doubled down, but Scott tied the game at 115. Brandon Johnson hit a three-pointer to make it 118-115.
A scrum broke out and Reddic hit the hardwood with a heavy thud. Reddic, always a full-bore player, had performed in this tournament with all-out purpose. As a result, he hit hard below the basket on several occasions, and each time it took the veteran longer to get up.
Johnson connected on another three-pointer with 55 seconds remaining to make it 121-115. Gardner and Wofford did their best to stay competitive down the stretch, but Holmes hit two important free throws to cement the team's first-ever National Championship victory, 123-118.
Kenny Holmes guided the Yellow Jackets with 28 points, Brandon Johnson scored 23, Claude Scott, Jr. added 20, Tim Jackson 19 and Tone Reddic, Sr. 15. Co-Captain Gilmore Cummings posted 8, Jason Arrington, Sr. scored 7 and James Jackson 4.
Submitted by Thomas Leturgey