Another Baltimore vs Pittsburgh Classic
Whenever there is a sporting event featuring a matchup between a Baltimore sports team and a Pittsburgh team, you can expect fireworks. This was ever so true Saturday, January 17th at St. Frances Academy gymnasium. The #3 ABA ranked Baltimore Hawks (10-1) were facing the North East Division leading # 12 ranked Steel City Yellow Jackets (8-3) for the second time this season, after losing to them 127-119 in early November. The stage was set for another hard fought battle and neither team disappointed.
The Hawks started this game with a new starting rotation of Terry Hosley (point guard), Lionel Perkins (shooting guard), Dashawn Bradshaw (forward), Juwand Rheubottom (power forward), and recently added center Brandon Davis. The first quarter belonged to the Yellow Jackets. The effective shooting of point guard Gilmore Cummings and strong down bottom play of forward Lawrence Baker lead to an early 12-3 lead. Though the Hawks did slow them down with their zone defensive, the offense was inconsistent. Terry Hosley kept the game within 10 with some effective shooting, but overall the Hawks seemed to be flat, and went into the second quarter down 37-29.
Coach Bowie brought in McCoy (guard), Ford (center), and Jones (guard) to begin the second quarter, hoping to jump start his offense, and was rewarded with an 8-2 run that brought the Hawks within 2 points of the lead. Though the Yellow Jackets were putting forth the effort to hold back the Hawks; their turnovers and ineffective defense led to them losing the lead (45-44) with four minutes left in the second. Hosley and Perkins finished the quarter strong combining for 11 points and 2 assist, and led the Hawks to a 58-53 lead at the half.
The first half of the third quarter was filled with a lot of back and forth short runs behind the three point shooting of Baker (Yellow Jackets) and Rheubottom (Hawks). Both players got hot around the same time and with a little under seven minutes left, the score read 68-65. Unfortunately, this close game got a little out of hand for the rest of the third quarter. Both the Yellow Jackets defense and perimeter shooting was nowhere to be found in the second half of the third quarter, which lead to a 92-79 Hawks lead at the close of the third. But, the Yellow Jackets weren’t about to give up.
Steel City started the fourth quarter with a 2-3 zone defense that slowed down the offensive efficiency of the Hawks. This adjustment combined with a hot streak by Steel City’s guards Nick Novak and Gilmore Cummings brought the game within five points with about five minutes left in the game. After a fast break dunk by forward Jason Hood (Yellow Jackets), Coach Bowie immediately called timeout to get his team back on track. Whatever he said to his players during that timeout worked because the Hawks came out on fire. Richard Ford (center) took over the game. Ford was hustling on both sides of the court. In two minutes he was responsible for almost every offensive and defensive rebound and added another eight points on offense. His play along with a strong finished by Hosley carried the Hawks to a 117-103 lead with two minutes left in the game. This run took all the fight out of the Yellow Jackets, and the Hawks went on to win the game with a final score of 123-115.
The Hawks are now (11-1), and seem to be coming on strong as they ready themselves for the playoffs. They are determined to make sure the city of Baltimore is well represented in the ABA, and the fans are just happy to see professional basketball being played in Baltimore. At this point, it is too early to say how popular this team will become in Baltimore City, but based on this game, they are going in the right direction. After a three game road trip to play the North Carolina Coyotes, Philadelphia Spirit, and Fayetteville Flight, the Hawks will return home to face Fayetteville again at St. Frances Academy Gymnasium (Feb 7th). If you’re looking for an entertaining night filled with good Baltimore basketball, make sure to be there.