On Wednesday morning, the Raptors 905 took down the Birmingham Squadron in great team fashion, however it was the Squadron who had the last laugh as they got their revenge the following night.
In Wednesday morning’s battle, both teams started off the contest with energy, active on both ends of the court. The Squadron made a point of trying to get into the paint, while on the flip side the 905 attempted a lot of trey balls and jump shots. The 905 missed a fair share of attempts underneath the basket, and overall shot just 37% from the field in the first quarter compared to the Squadron’s 52%, and Birmingham took a one point 25-25 lead into the second quarter.
The second frame saw a lot of productivity on defense from the 905; getting their hands in the passing lane, and good activity on the glass. Toronto Raptors rookie Christian Koloko, in his first game on assignment with the 905, was a particular bright spot on the boards grabbing 10 of his game-high 14 rebounds in the first half alone. The two teams made their runs and the Squadron carried a 49-46 lead into the half.
Whatever Coach Khoury’s message to the team was in the locker room was heard loud and clear, as the 905 came out of the half with a power packed punch. Big man Reggie Perry opened the quarter with back to back steals resulting in transition slams from Ron Harper Jr. and David Johnson, respectively. 905’s Gabe Brown had himself a great quarter on the offensive side, scoring 8 of his 17 points in the third. It was the production from Gabe, strong takes to the basket, Koloko’s aggressiveness on the glass and continued active defense that allowed the 905 to take a 77-70 lead into the final frame.
The 4th quarter came around and the 905 put their foot on the gas and drove the game home. Guard/Forward Sterling Brown, coming back from a 10-day with the Los Angeles Lakers, had an explosive 11 point quarter and finished with a game-high 20 points. Ball movement and sharing was the theme of the game for the 905 as they bested the Squadron 22-31 in assists, and six different 905 players scored in double figures. The Raptors 905 out-rebounded the Squadron 55-38, and ultimately went home with an assertive 110-89 victory.
Reggie Perry finished with a near triple-double as he notched 13 points, a game high 9 assists, along with 9 rebounds. Ron Harper Jr. and David Johnson also finished with 13 points apiece and Christian Koloko with 12 points and 14 rebounds for a double-double.
Now on Thursday evening, the Squadron, clearly with the bitter taste of Wednesday’s loss still in their mouths, came out of the gates swinging. They started off the game on a 14-2 run, which would be indicative of the rest of the game’s performance.
From the jump, the 905 had trouble keeping the Squadron out of the paint, being outscored 24-14 in paint points for the first quarter alone, and 76-50 for the game. The Squadron were dominating the 905 offensively, outscoring the home team 27-9 before Sterling Brown went on a 10-4 run by himself from the 3:25 mark to the 0:56 second mark. Having lead by as many as 18, the Squadron carried a 10 point 21-31 lead into the second quarter.
The Raptors 905 tried to claw back in the second quarter, cutting a once 19 point lead to eight, but the Squadron answered assertively, eventually putting themselves back up in double figures and taking a 23 point 66-43 lead into halftime.
The Squadron’s barrage of scoring continued into the second half as they were able to take a 30 point lead within the 3rd frame. The 905, however, “never stopped fighting”, in the words of Sterling Brown. The pace picked up for the team a bit and they were able to slice a 30 point lead to 20 for an 88-68 deficit entering the 4th and final quarter.
Although the 905 continued to make their runs, the Squadron continued to have answers for them. The 905 fought, but ultimately the taste of revenge was all too sweet for the Squadron to let go of, and they avenged their previous day’s 21 point loss with a 20 point win for a final score of 115-95.
The 905 had just one more turnover than the Squadron (14 and 13, respectively), but it was the Squadron’s constant point of running in transition that allowed them to outscore the 905 25-12 in points off of turnovers, and 26-6 in fastbreak points. Sterling Brown was again the high scorer for the team off the bench with 23 points, 21 of which came within the first 3 quarters. Christian Koloko notched another double double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Jeff Dowtin Jr., Ron Harper Jr, and Reggie Perry each scored 18, 14 and 12 points, respectively. The Squadron’s Feron Hunt and Dereon Seabron were the one-two punch for their squad, scoring 21 and 25 points, respectively.
”They gon’ come out with a different mentality. They hit us in the mouth first and we really didn’t respond.” said Sterling Brown of the difficulty of a back to back when coming off a win. “We’ll be prepared for the next back to back.” he added.
The 905 look to get back into the win column on Thursday February 2nd as they continue their home stand against the Cleveland Charge at 7:30pm, and again against the Charge on Saturday February 4th at 2pm.