Legend Stops Storm
By Andrew Astleford

Both parties should be well acclimated by now.

Playing against one another for the fourth time in 12 days, Dodge City and Oklahoma renewed the United States Basketball League Midwest Division rivalry in typical fashion with physical post play and timely runs dominating the game's flow.

Legend big men were jeopardized by foul trouble early in the second half, but Dodge City was able to maintain a slight lead to gain a 105-102 victory over the Storm at the Dodge City Civic Center Wednesday night.

Oklahoma (2-4) and Dodge City (5-2) earn a four-game split in the early-season series with the home team winning each game.

"I'm glad I don't have to see (Oklahoma) again until the end of the season," Legend coach Dale Osbourne said. "They play hard every possession, they go hard, they're scrappy… I'm just glad I don't have to see them until the end of June."

"Coming here in Dodge City, it's ebbs and flows," Oklahoma coach Todd Chambers said. "They go at it, we go at it… it's a dogfight every time we come here."

Reed Rawlings and Muntrelle Dobbins converted on four free-throw attempts for Dodge City in the final two minutes. Oklahoma had a chance to force overtime, but Storm forward Chris Porter mishandled a pass at the top of the key and was forced to take a 3-pointer in traffic that failed to hit rim as time expired.

Oklahoma took its first lead of the second half at 84-82 after a Lamont Turner jump shot in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.

The Legend outscored the Storm 18-8 in the next five-plus minutes to build a 100-92 lead. Porter's dunk with two minutes left brought the Storm within one point during an 8-1 stretch.

"We just have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball and getting back on defensive transition," Osbourne said.

With Dodge City's post players plagued by foul problems, Oklahoma crept back early in the second half after trailing 53-43 at halftime. Dobbins earned his fifth foul early in the third quarter, and Jermaine Tate was whistled for his fifth with 1:30 to go in the quarter.

"Hopefully, (the foul problems) will change with some added depth," Osbourne said. "My big guys are not in shape. When they get tired, they make dumb fouls."

The Storm capitalized on the lack of Dodge City depth by going on a 25-14 run in the last 7:02 of the third quarter.

"They outrebounded us again by almost 20 (62-46)," Osbourne said. "Obviously, we've got better size, so they just have a lot more energy.

"I don't know if this is a rivalry or what, but whenever we play them, they come ready to play."

Dodge City gained a 15-point lead in the second quarter, its largest of the game. Oklahoma was held scoreless for almost three minutes during a stretch in which Dodge City scored nine unanswered points.

Legend difficulties started in the second quarter when center Kenny Whitehead was sent to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with just over nine minutes remaining. Even with Dodge City's depth problems, the Storm, who shot 34.8 percent from the floor in the first half, was unable to get any closer than eight points in the second quarter.

"Defensive wise, we just have to step up," Chambers said. "We have to stop getting out of the gate slow. If we can put four good quarters together, who knows what we can do?"

Oklahoma went dry from the floor for three-plus minutes in the first quarter. Dodge City's lead grew to 10 points early while the Storm went 0-for-6 from the field. Oklahoma closed on a 17-11 run to narrow the gap to four by quarter's end.

Guard Rob Dye led the Legend with 19 points. Ray Young and Rawlings finished with 17 points each for Dodge City.

Patrick Okafor totaled a game-high 25 points for Oklahoma. Teammate Turner scored 23 points.

The Legend begins a five-game road trip against Eastern Division competition on Saturday at Westchester. With Wednesday's victory, Osbourne is optimistic that Dodge City will be able to snap its two-game losing skid away from the Civic Center.

"I can feel a lot better," he said. "We can't allow a team to outrebound us by 20, we can't afford to have lapses… we just have to play smart and be aggressive on the road."


NOTES: Former Fort Hays State guard Earl Tyson played his first game with Oklahoma. Coming off the bench, Tyson scored nine points. Sam Haley, Andre Matthews and Jamar Brown were released in other Oklahoma transactions since Monday. Oklahoma is now 0-3 on the road. Dodge City's home-winning streak grew to 23 games in the victory. Dodge City left for Wichita on Thursday to start its road swing.

OKLAHOMA (102) - Harvey 0-10 1-2 1, Tyson 2-5 4-4 9, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Martin 5-10 0-0 10, Turner 11-17 1-1 23, Penny 3-11 9-10 15, Okafor 9-15 7-8 25, Porter 5-20 0-0 10, Lang 4-7 1-4 9, Totals 39-95 23-29 102.

DODGE CITY (105) - Dye 7-17 5-6 19, Young 4-7 7-9 17, L. Davis 0-1 0, McElroy 7-9 2-2 16, C. Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Rawlings 6-18 2-2 17, Tate 3-8 9-14 15, Dobbins 4-10 4-4 12, Whitehead 4-7 1-4 9. Totals 35-77 30-41 105.

Oklahoma 21 22 36 23 - 102

Dodge City 27 26 29 23 - 105

Halftime - Dodge City 53, Oklahoma 43. 3-point goals - Oklahoma 1-14 (Tyson 1-3), Dodge City 5-12 (Rawlings 3-8, Young 2-3). Rebounds - Oklahoma 62 (Turner 11, Porter 11), Dodge City 46 (Whitehead 11). Assists - Oklahoma 13 (Harvey 5), Dodge City 16 (Dye 4, McElroy 4). Turnovers - Oklahoma 19, Dodge City 13. Fouls - Oklahoma 26, Dodge City 26. Fouled out - Oklahoma 1 (Penny), Dodge City 1 (Dobbins). Technical fouls - Oklahoma 1 (Illegal Defense).