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Monday, March 12, 2012

89ers finish Kyushu trip with victory over Rizing


Staff writer

Playing on the one-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Sendai 89ers gave their rabid Tohoku fans a heart-warming 73-65 victory to savor, and they salvaged a series split on Sunday in the bj-league.

Johnny Dukes poured in 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting and Dan Fitzgerald added 19 points as the fifth-place 89ers improved to 19-19 and completed a four-game road trip in Kyushu.

Filip Toncinic scored 11 points, captain Takehiko "Take" Shimura chipped in with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists and big man Rashaad Singleton supplied 11 boards and four blocked shots toward the winning cause in Fukuoka.

"This was an emotional day, topped off by seeing Take embracing one of our fans and crying tears of joy — and relief and hope — after a hard-fought win on this one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Tohoku," Sendai coach Bob Pierce said, describing his captain's interaction with an 89ers booster.

Kevin Palmer paced the Rizing (24-14) with 23 points, Akitomo Takeno scored 13 and Gary Hamilton had seven points with 14 rebounds.

Fukuoka shot 23-for-73 from the field.

After Palmer had 25 points in the series opener, a 67-59 Fukuoka victory, Pierce opted to shake up the Sendai lineup, giving Toncinic, a versatile Croatian forward, a chance to start.

The move paid off, as Dukes came off the bench to spark the 89ers.

"Johnny came in and played his best game of this four-game road trip," Pierce said, noting Dukes' eight rebounds and four assists.

Sendai forward Takuya Komoda, a Fukuoka native, gave his team a boost, too, despite sustaining an eye laceration early in the game. He returned to action wearing a head bandage and gritted his way to a five-point, eight-rebound (season-high) effort. Nagasaki native Daisuke Takaoka also got a chance to play 16 minutes before family and friends from Kyushu.

By all accounts, this well-rounded victory did more than just give Sendai a .500 record again.

As Pierce put it, "There were about 50 residents of Miyagi Prefecture who had to be evacuated and are now living in Fukuoka who attended the game today. We were honored by their presence, and happy that we could give them our best efforts and a win to cheer for."

Big Bulls 65, Evessa 63

In Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture, terrible free-throw shooting spelled trouble for Osaka, and the hosts eked out a win over the Evessa.

Thomas Kennedy topped the scoring charts for the Big Bulls (11-29) with an 18-point afternoon, Shawn Malloy and Gordon Klaiber each scored 15 points, with 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively, and Hayato Kantake contributed 10 points. Yoshiaki Yamamoto added five assists in an emotional win for the first-year Tohoku club.

The Evessa were 14-for-29 at the line. Wayne Marshall scored 12 points for Osaka (26-12), Masashi Obuchi provided 11, Shota Konno had nine, Lynn Washington netted eight and Cohey Aoki seven.

Jets 81, Broncos 69

In Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture, Chiba crashed the boards with reckless abandon and raked in nearly as many rebounds as points in a bounce-back win over the hosts.

Jamel Staten's 25-point, 24-rebound, six-assist, two-steal, one-block performance led the charge for the Jets (14-24, eighth place in the 10-team Eastern Conference).

Chiba held a 72-44 rebounding edge.

Maurice Hargrow had 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Gaston Moliva scored 12 points and Takaki Ishida had 11 points for the Jets, who dropped the bj-league series opener, 81-71 in Kasukabe.

Saitama (11-27) shot 4-for-23 from 3-point range. John Flowers paced the Broncos with 18 points and Kenny Satterfield scored 17; they were a combined 3-for-11 on 3s. Satterfield, who had a triple-double on Saturday, also handed out six assists.

Broncos forward Jayme Miller added 12 points and nine rebounds and John "Helicopter" Humphrey scored nine points.

Golden Kings 89, Albirex 79

In Seiro, Niigata Prefecture, Ryukyu's offense finished with a flourish in the fourth quarter: 30 points to secure a win over the hosts.

The Golden Kings, who own a league-best 32-8 record, were one of several teams on the day with big-time woes at the foul line. They shot 20-for-34, but found other ways to put enough points on the board and pick up a win.

Anthony McHenry energized Ryukyu with 20 points, 11 rebounds and five steals and Dillion Sneed had 14 points and 12 boards. David Palmer and Jeff Newton, former Osaka teammates, had 11 and 10 points, respectively. Naoto Kosuge scored nine points and Tsubasa Yonamine and Narito Namizato had seven apiece.

For Niigata (22-18), Chris Holm had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Nile Murry scored 11, Yuichi Ikeda had a 10-point game and Shuhei Komatsu added nine.

Phoenix 93, Grouses 83

In Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, the two-time defending champions sank 13 3-pointers, got 67 points from their "Big Three" and completed a series sweep.

Wayne Arnold led Hamamatsu Higashimikawa (27-13) with 26 points, Jermaine Dixon scored 25 and Jeffrey Parmer had 16. Kenya Tomori finished with eight points for coach Ryuji Kawai's club.

Brian Harper had a game-high 36 points with nine boards for Toyama (21-17), which lost for the second time in as many days without All-Star guard Masashi Joho. Ira Brown scored 17 points, Larry Turner had 15 and Takeshi Mito provided 11.

The Grouses, who shot 22-for-37 on free throws, couldn't make up for the loss of the injured Joho.

HeatDevils 88, Five Arrows 63

In Saeki, Oita Prefecture, the hosts blasted Takamatsu in the fourth quarter, erupting for 36 points that reminded one of a gush of steam rising from the nearby onsen (hot springs).

T.J. Cummings led Oita (16-24) with 37 points and 13 rebounds, and finished 9-for-14 at the charity stripe. Taj Finger notched a double-double (19 points, 12 boards) and Matt Lottich followed suit with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Shuichi Takada had a team-high 14 points for the Five Arrows (2-36).

Lakestars 79, Northern Happinets 74

In Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, Shiga compensated for Yu Okada's dreadful shooting day (1-for-15 from the field, including 0-for-9 from beyond the arc) by getting solid production from other players in a narrow victory over Akita.

Steady big man Julius Ashby, who has suited up for championship runnerup teams in Takamatsu and Tokyo, had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Lakestars (23-15). Josh Peppers poured in 19 points, Ray Nixon had 11 and Bryant Markson scored seven as the hosts earned a series sweep.

For the Happinets (23-17), Yuki Kikuchi had the hot shooting touch, scoring 27 points and burying 7 of 11 3-point attempts. Lionel Green added 14 points and Ricky Woods had 11 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

Shining Suns 80, Susanoo Magic 71

In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Miyazaki outscored the hosts 44-24 in the second and third quarters en route to victory.

O'Neal "Trey" Mims led the Suns with 26 points and 17 rebounds, Dexter Lyons scored 14 and Taishiro Shimizu had 14 as Miyazaki earned a split and improved to 18-22.

Shimane's Michael Parker scored a team-best 26 points. B.J. Puckett scored 19 points before fouling out and Tatsuhiro Yokoo had 11 points. Edward Yamamoto dished out nine assists for the Magic (21-19).



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