July 2, 2016
Slam falls to Kitsap in Seattle Pro-Am opener
The Bellingham Slam received a rude welcome to the 2016 Seattle Pro-Am as they fell to the Kitsap Admirals, 94-89, in their league opener on Saturday afternoon at Royal Brougham Pavilion.
It was the first league game in over two years for the Slam, who last took the court in a competitive fashion for the 2014 International Basketball League Championship game. The team spent all of 2015 on hiatus until accepting an initiation to join the Seattle Pro-Am league earlier this year.
The Slam led 49-48 at halftime after a back-and-forth first half that saw 19 lead changes or ties, and pulled ahead 70-61 midway through the third quarter thanks to a 10-1 run. However, Kitsap rallied late in the frame to take a 70-68 lead heading into the fourth.
The slim advantage for the Admirals proved to be just enough, as the Slam were held to 19 points in the quarter and were never able to retake the lead.
Guard Paul Hafford made things interesting late for the Slam, hitting a three-pointer with 1:30 left to trim the Admirals’ lead to one, at 87-86. After Kitsap scored two on the other end, Hafford was fouled on another three-point try and connected on all three free throws to tie the game at 89-all with 45 seconds left. But a mid-range jumper by Kitsap guard Desjuan Newton late in the shot clock on their following possession proved to be the dagger and gave the Admirals the lead for good, at 91-89.
The Slam had one final chance to tie the game with less than five seconds left, but a deep three-point attempt came up short.
Hafford led the Slam with 22 points, including four three-pointers. Guard Drew Ready posted a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and also added three blocks.
As a team, the Slam struggled to find their groove offensively and shot only 40 percent from the floor. The 89 points scored were the fewest in a game for Bellingham since they lost to the Vancouver Volcanoes 94-86 in IBL action on April 21, 2013.
Kitsap was led by Newton’s 22 points on 10-of-22 shooting. In a contrast of styles, the Admirals attempted only five three-point shots, making one, while the Slam hoisted 36 and made nine.
The Slam returns to action at Noon on Sunday in search of their first win at the Pro-Am. They will face Team Clover Fitness at Seattle Pacific University’s Royal Brougham Pavilion.