Legend Puts Out Wildfire
By Andrew Astleford
Immanuel McElroy was clutch once again.
This time, he did his major damage without even being guarded.
McElroy scored five of his team's final seven points, all from the free-throw line, to lead the Dodge City Legend to a 92-86 victory over the Westchester Wildfire Tuesday night at the Dodge City Civic Center.
With McElroy carrying Dodge City (10-6) to its 27th-straight home victory by scoring 20 points, Legend coach Dale Osbourne said it's time for others to start sharing the load.
"It gets really old when you have to depend on (McElroy) for your ball club," Osbourne said. "He the leading scorer, the leading rebounder, the leading assist guy - it gets old.
"He wants it. He does it. I just disappointing other guys don't want to show up and play every night."
McElroy said he's willing to do everything it takes for the Legend to be successful.
"I can put them on my shoulders," McElroy said. "It's a team effort. I'm not getting frustrated."
Jermaine Tate, who finished with 17 points, contributed down the stretch by blocking Westchester's Jamaal Davis' jump shot with 35 seconds left to deny the Wildfire a chance at the lead. Tate hit two free throws in the final 30 seconds.
"(Tate) has been giving us some consistent minutes," Osbourne said. "He hit some big free throws down the stretch that were big for us."
Dodge City clung to a slight lead in the fourth quarter until Shea Seals hit a 3-pointer to with 3 minutes, 17 seconds left to give the Westchester (6-9) its first lead since the opening quarter after struggling from the floor all night long.
The Wildfire ended 30-for-87 shooting; the Legend didn't fair much better by going 30-of-71 from the floor.
"We've got to come up with stops," Westchester coach John Starks said. "Immanuel McElroy really ate our lunch in the last part of the game.
"(McElroy) is aggressive, he just out-jumped our guys He came up with some big free throws."
Westchester was held scoreless for nearly six minutes in the third quarter as the Legend gained a nine-point lead until Greg Stevenson closed with six of the Wildfire's last eight points.
Ray Young broke open a tight game in the second quarter - scoring 11 of his 16 points during a quarter-opening 17-7 Legend run.
The lead grew to 18 points, the Legend's largest of the game, until the Wildfire scored 11 straight en route to shrinking the gap to 46-41 as the Legend were held scoreless for three-plus minutes because of turnover problems.
"We had a big lead, and we just let up," McElroy said. "We just have to get playing. We just have to go hard. Once we got a team down, we've got to go for the throat and keep playing.
"It's like we let up - we just seem to get tired. When need to keep attacking, keep attacking and never let up. Especially when we're at home and we've got our fans behind us, we've got to keep it up."
Ben Davis led Westchester with 13 points at halftime; Young led Dodge City scorers with 11 at the break.
Both teams got off to slow starts offensively, combining for 13-of-42 shooting, until Dodge City rebounded to close on a 9-1 run to gain a 21-17 lead.
The Legend plays Brevard 7 p.m. today at the Civic Center. Brevard will be considered the home team because of a scheduling conflict.
"I'm happy that we got a win," McElroy said. "But we have to play better tomorrow."
NOTES: Westchester's Kareem Reid, who leads his team with 19.6 points per game, was named Honorable Mention for USBL Player of the Week honors Monday. He scored 12 points against the Legend. Former New York Knicks guard John Starks is in his second season as a USBL head coach. He was part of numerous Knicks playoff teams in the 1990s. "It's just coaching and just trying to find what I learned on the court and transfer it to the coaching part of it," Starks said. Westchester is in the midst of a six-game road trip - with Tuesday's loss it is 1-4 on the swing Kansas hosts Westchester today before the Kansas travels East for Friday's matchup between the two teams. Bergersen started on the bench after serving a one-game suspension for involvement in a physical confrontation during Saturday night's victory over Cedar Rapids. Dallas Mavericks' mascot "Mavs Man" entertained the crowd with trick dunks at halftime. With the victory, Dodge City is only four wins shy of the USBL record for consecutive home victories. The 1995-96 Florida Sharks hold the record with 31 straight home victories.
WESTCHESTER (86) - Reid 4-9 4-6 12, Gadson 3-11 0-2 6, Cobbin 3-8 4-4 10, J. Davis 5-12 3-4 15, Moore 6-12 2-5 14, Kartello 0-0 0-0 0, Stevenson 4-10 0-3, B. Davis 1-9 0-0 2, Williams 1-5 2-2 4. Totals 30-87 23-34 86.
DODGE CITY (92) - Dye 3-6 3-3 9, Young 6-12 4-7 16, Williams 1-4 0-0 2, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Bergersen 7-13 0-0 16, McElroy 6-11 8-13 20, Boseman 0-6 4-6 4, Rawlings 1-5 2-2 4, Tate 5-8 7-9 17, Whitehead 0-3 2-2 2, Watts 1-3 0-0 2, Okeson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-71 30-42 92.
Westchester 17 24 19 26 - 86
Dodge City 21 25 21 25 - 92
Halftime - Dodge City 46, Westchester 41. 3-point goals - Westchester 3-18 (Gadson 0-2, Cobbin 0-2, Davis 2-4, Moore 0-1, Stevenson 0-3, Seals 1-6), Dodge City 2-10 (Young 0-2, Bergersen 2-4, Boseman 0-2, Rawlings 0-2). Rebounds - Westchester 49 (Stevenson 9), Dodge City 60 (McElroy 13). Assists - Westchester 11 (Gadson 4), Dodge City 15 (McElroy 4). Turnovers - Westchester 16, Dodge City 24. Fouls - Westchester 30, Dodge City 28. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - Westchester 1 (Illegal Defense), Dodge City 2 (Illegal Defense, McElroy).