The New York Lightning were back in the Brooklyn Stuy Dome on Sunday as they played host to the visiting Pottstown Flames. There was a lot on the line in this game, as a win would give the Flames an opportunity to make it to the playoffs.
The Lightning who have only been apart of the ABA for two months are in their preliminary season which does not make them eligible for a playoff spot. The game was intense from the beginning with players talking back and forth while technical fouls were handed out to both teams.
“I mentioned to the troops that this was a playoff play-in game and they seemed to match the intensity with Pottstown,” said owner/ head coach Willie Negron.
The Lightning got off to a fast start behind the work of newcomer DaShawn Carter who scored seven of the Lightning’s first 10 points. Carter is a native of Brooklyn who recently played overseas in China in the past few months but was excited to be playing in his hometown.
“It feels good being back home, you know Brooklyn the intensity is always high here, so you know you have to bring it,” said Carter. “I’m just looking to come in here and help the team and bring a little bit of everything to the table,” he added.
Both teams have shown that offense is not hard to come by, so no matter how far ahead the Lightning were the Flames fought back. Gil Benz who finished with 32 points was able to keep the Flames playoff hopes alive as they headed into halftime down 60-55.
In the start of the second half the Flames came out firing taking the lead at one point, but the Lightning would turn to forward Bernard Cherry to help regain momentum. Cherry would be a force in the third quarter scoring 10 of his 14 points and help the Lightning take an 83-79 lead into the fourth.
In the days before this game, the Lightning knew they needed to step up their defense to win this game. Once the fourth quarter came, the Lightning’s defense reached a new intensity.
“They decided to join together, they bought into the message of playing defense,” said coach Negron. “I think this week we did a better job of communicating, not just the starters but the bench to we were able to talk the whole game, and that helped limit our mistakes,” added point guard Travis Conyers.
The Lightning would hold the Flames to 16 points in the fourth quarter their lowest total in the game. The intense defense down the stretch earned them a 110-95 win lead by 32 points from Carter and 27 points from Conyers.
“When you bring in a player like Mr. Carter it changes the complexion of the game, the other team didn’t know what to expect, and he brought energy along with the other nine Lightning players,” said Negron. “The game was good we were able to play defense together as a team, we were able to move the ball get it down to the bigs, and that benefitted us a lot,” said Conyers.
The Lightning finished their preliminary season with a 2-3 record but clearly showed improvement in each game and have set the foundation for their official start in the ABA next season.
Note: Be sure to follow the NY Lightning on twitter (@nylightningbas) and go to the website for the schedule, latest news and updates (www.nylightningbasketball.com).