Yellow Jackets have Scare, narrowly fefeat rival Bruins
Last updated 11/22/2022 at 9:45pm
In any team sport, there are rivals. Most often, there is a geographical closeness for communities that oftentimes share familiar themes. Think of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns of lore, or the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies through time.
The Steel City Yellow Jackets and the Ohio Bruins are among the top rivalries in the American Basketball Association. Last season, the Bruins were one of two teams (the other being Baltimore...another rival) to defeat the Yellow Jackets on their way to their first-ever National Championship.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, the game came down to a buzzer beater from arguably the league's top player. Ace Pippens' team faced its first scare of the new season and defeated Chris Anthony, Sr.'s club 131-130.
Guard Kenny Holmes continued his dominance on the hardwood when he nailed a three-point play with time expiring, which gave the Yellow Jackets their third win of the season. Holmes finished the contest with 40 points, the exact same total he had against the Bruins in his return to the club last February. That was the game that dropped the Yellow Jackets to 14-2, 136-125 (their last loss of last season).
The Yellow Jackets had to know the Bruins had their number last season. And the Bruins came prepared when they arrived at A Giving Heart Community Center in Allentown. Interestingly, the game was delayed some time as the Bruins had travel issues making the 185-mile trek from Columbus.
The Yellow Jackets knew they had a fight on their hands at the conclusion of the first quarter, when the Bruins had a 34-31 lead. It was the first time this season the Yellow Jackets were behind at the end of a quarter. Coming into the game, Pittsburgh's ABA representative had outscored its opposition, 333-219.
Tim Jackson, who earlier this week celebrated his 25th birthday with his twin, James, led the Yellow Jackets in the first 12 minutes with 11 points. James Jackson added six points. Kenny Holmes had eight points on the strength of two three-pointers.
The Bruins scored on six three-pointers in the first quarter, all seven players who made the trip scored in the first quarter. They were led early on by Allante Gorham and Matt Bingaya.
The Yellow Jackets, which they have been prone to do, rebounded after that first period and outscored the competition, 35-28. That gave the home team a 66-62 lead at the half. Holmes dished out 17 points in 12 minutes, and Brandon Johnson, who didn't score in the first quarter, added nine points in the second quarter.
Once the second-half began, the Yellow Jackets were once again behind the eight-ball. The Bruins came out and outscored the defending ABA Champions, 37-30. Jay Farrow scored 16 points in 12 minutes, while Holmes cooled to only five in that time. Tim Jackson had seven points. Artis Cleveland, who did not score in the first half, added six points, and Amaru Caldwell posted five.
Going into the final quarter, the Yellow Jackets were holding onto a 96-92 lead. The Bruins' Josh Shannon added 12 of his 22 points in the final 12 minutes and Jay Farrow added 10.
Holmes had 10 points for the home club in the final quarter, including the game-winner. James Jackson had nine points, Brandon Johnson had eight.
"It was a tough fought game against them as usual," said Pippens afterwards. "[The Yellow Jackets] stuck together and took care of business in the end."
Holmes led all scorers with 40, Tim Jackson had 31, while James Jackson and Brandon Johnson each added 20. Amaru Caldwell had 12, Artis Cleveland had six and Dominick McClung 2. Cleveland also collected 18 rebounds.
Co-Captains Gilmore Cummings and Tone Reddic, Sr. remain on the Injured Reserve, as is Claude Scott, Jr. There is no time table on their respective returns.
Jay Farrow led the Bruins with 35 points, Matt Bingaya had 32, Allante Gorham and Josh Shannon each had 22.
The 3-0, #1 ranked Yellow Jackets have their first "back-to-back" assignment next weekend. First, they travel to another geographical rival in Cleveland's Burning River Buckets on Saturday and the teams repeat next Sunday in Allentown at 5 p.m.