Yellow Jackets run away with lopsided 213-65 win against Bombers
Last updated 12/13/2022 at 3:11pm
Anything can happen in the American Basketball Association. The Steel City Yellow Jackets were originally scheduled to play the York Buccaneers on December 10 at A Giving Heart Community Center in Pittsburgh. However, according to ABA officials, the team folded months ago. Instead of a forfeit, Yellow Jackets owner Ace Pippens reached a deal for the Bridgeport Bombers to come back to Pittsburgh. The Bombers took on the Yellow Jackets in the team's only pre-season contest.
As an organization, Bridgeport is running on fumes and might shudder someday. However, the team's coach and starting forward Cordell Nicola cobbled together a team that traveled to Pittsburgh and played with professionalism and gusto.
The Bombers just ran into a buzz saw.
The Steel City Yellow Jackets remained undefeated at 6-0 with a definitive drubbing of the Bombers, 213-65.
Ace Pippens' club entered the game at full-strength for the first time this season. Co-Captains Tone Reddic, Sr. and Gilmore Cummings, and game-changing forward Claude Scott, Jr. all played on the same court for the first time in the ABA since April's National Championship victory.
Starters Dominic McClung and VaShawn Howard got the Yellow Jackets on the board first. Howard's first bucket of the night was a three-pointer and guard Amaru Caldwell immediately hit two more from behind the three-point line.
McClung scored with an impressive dunk, and it was quickly 12-0. While Cleveland's Burning River Buckets extended a quick 12-0 lead against the defending National Champions, but this was different. The Yellow Jackets realized that they were playing with only seven players on the opposing team.
McClung helped extend the lead to 21-0 before Maurice Jones connected on one of two free throws with about 8:00 left in the first quarter to make it 21-1. That was as close as Bridgeport got all night.
Saturday Night's game featured more 3D opportunities and connections on those shots than at any time in the past two seasons. Early in the game, Howard would score on two 3Ds. In the first quarter, both teams were working fast, and the Yellow Jackets were the team to beat. James Jackson, who had a big game, hit a 4-point 3D in the first quarter
Tyshawn Bowles scored the first two-point jumper of the game for the Bombers with 3:09 to go in the quarter. The Yellow Jackets defense was just that quick and smothering.
An inspired Tone Reddic Sr. had an impressive tip-in during the first 12 minutes and Claude Scott hit an emphatic dunk on the way to the team's unbelievable 53-4 lead.
Maurice Jones scored the first points of the second quarter, but Brandon Burnett (who had returned from a family emergency that kept him out of last week's game) scored before Reddic clubbed down another dunk.
Kenny Holmes hit for seven points in the next few moments and Reddic connected on a 3D shot to make the score 72-13 with 7:30 minutes to go in the quarter.
Bridgeport's Maurice Jones played a courageous game, he led all Bridgeport players with 29 points, nearly 45% of the team's scoring output.
Brandon Johnson came on in the second quarter for the Yellow Jackets, scoring 13 points, including a rare 3D bomb from behind half court that added five points to the scoreboard.
Despite the outrageous offense output, the Yellow Jackets still played strong defense when they wanted. When it looked like the team had a chance for 100-points before the end of the first half, they put the press into overdrive.
Tim and James Jackson took turns scoring in the second quarter with Tim hitting a three-pointer to make the score 104-31 at the half.
Artis Cleveland, who arrived for the game following his day job, played in the second half. The 7-footer joined a lineup that had Tone Reddic, Claude Scott, Jr., Dominick McClung and Brandon Burnett providing stellar play in the paint.
The second half of the game featured a unique option. The officials, along with the two opposing coaches, agreed to a more liberal operation of the game clock. The clock ran continually, only stopping for time outs. The game clock ran through free throw opportunities, where it is normally stopped. The ABA doesn't offer a "mercy" rule, but it's a way to get everyone out of the game.
Cleveland, James Jackson, Holmes and all scored before Maurice Jones could stop the run. Holmes scored 18 points in the quarter, including a four-pointer from a 3D opportunity. Tim Jackson added 14 in that quarter, including a three-pointer that made it 136-36 with 5:12 to go in the quarter.
Maurice Jones answered for Bridgeport, but it was all Yellow Jackets. Reddic hit two three-pointers in succession, which was between Tim Jackson's jumpers.
At about the 2:30 mark in the third, Markus Smith entered the game and scored for the Jackets. An Artis Cleveland dunk would close out the quarter, and the Jackets' 166-45 lead.
At this time, the team began to wonder if they could eclipse 200 points. The amount isn't achieved nearly as much now as in the past. Coach Ace Pippens said it's been a couple of years since the team posted that kind of number. But the squad wanted that milestone.
Damian VanKirk, listed as a 6'4" forward, is a massive basketball player. At several times in the game, he was nearly allotted time to charge the paint with no defense whatsoever. And when he would score, the crowd...which was the biggest of the season to date...cheered enthusiastically.
Cleveland and Reddic dunked to score, and others tried but came up short. Amaru Caldwell tried a few half-court shots as both teams continued to play smart.
Amaru Caldwell hit a three-pointer to make the score 200-53 with 3:30 remaining. Always playing hard, Reddic and Brandon Johnson scored, with the guard's being a 3D triple.
Reddic concluded the game with a big dunk, 213-65.
After a contest some may consider a "laugher," the Yellow Jackets travel to Baltimore next Saturday night to take on one of their most vaunted rivals, the Baltimore Hawks.