Friday nights are always rocking at Dr Pepper Arena. Byron Bogar kept the crowd rowdy, proud and loud all night long as the Legends (18-19) came from behind 15 points to defeat the Salt Lake City Stars (12-25), D-League affiliate of the Utah Jazz, 105 to 101.
It was a powerhouse matchup of bigs on both sides of the ball. The Legends rolled out red hot Jameel Warney and defensive enforcer Stephane Lasme. Salt Lake deployed Henry Sims and 2016 second round draft pick Joel Bolomboy, the latter picked up 21 points and 21 rebounds in the loss against Texas.
“They’re a great duo,” says Warney. “Probably the best duo we’ll face at the four and five. It was a really tough test for us today and thankfully we squeaked out a win.”
Warney continued his stretch of dominance with a big first quarter. The Stony Brook alum put up 10 points and four rebounds before his first substitution. After starting hot, he remained locked in, finishing the night with 27 points and 15 rebounds (five offensive). Just another day at the office for the emerging star.
“At this level this is probably my best stretch of basketball I’ve played. I’m trusting the process, practicing and it’s finally great to get over the rust I had from my injuries. This is my best basketball of the season so it’s a pretty nice feeling.”
At the half, the Stars led by nine but the teams were squared even at rebounds (25), assists (12) and steals (six). After a halftime show featuring the Sherman High School Hi-Steppers and nationally acclaimed Trinity Valley Community College Cardettes, the good guys began to chip away at the Salt Lake advantage.
Lasme has played six games with the Legends and though he doesn’t yet qualify for the league leaderboard, his 3.2 blocks per game would be behind only Gatorade Call-up Briante Weber, who currently resides with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
He picked up five more tonight. In his last four games, the notorious shot blocker has fit the billing with totals of six, four, three and five.
Just over halfway through the third period, the comeback was complete and the game tied at 64. 15 points later, the Legends took a 79-77 lead, their first advantage since 9-6. Behind Manny Harris and Jameel Warney, the Legends seized control of the matchup.
Harris continues to absolutely ball. In 42 minutes, the D-League’s leading scorer (26.2 PPG) scored a game-high 37 points while double-double’ing with 10 boards and dished out five assists. Warney also had five assists and led all players in court time with 43 minutes. A promotion to the NBA could soon be in store for both Legends players.
“I mean I just gotta keep playing well,” says Warney, who is averaging 29.5 points per game on the home stand. “It’s a little about talent and a little about luck. Hopefully that chatter (about a call-up) is true. But my focus is on tomorrow’s game and preparing for that.”
Speaking of, the Legends resume their season long eight-game home stand Saturday night. The team will host the Long Island Nets (14-25), D-League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets, in the one and only matchup against the East coast squad this season.