Legend Grounds Flyers
By Andrew Astleford
Florence Flyers coach Andy Stoglin, his face full of sweat while requesting a towel from a nearby assistant coach, seemed to embody his team's situation as he slowly walked out of the locker room after an exhausting loss.
The Flyers almost overcome depth problems after only suiting six players, but Jermaine Tate's effort in both facets propelled the Dodge City Legend to a 112-109 victory against Florence Tuesday at the Dodge City Civic Center to increase the home-winning streak to 28 games.
Tate, who led the Legend with 24 points, made a key block of Louis Truscott with just under 30 seconds remaining to deny the Flyers a chance at the lead.
Even while trying to put his team in the best possible position, Stoglin said Tate was too much.
"Tonight, we tried to rotate the guys and keep them fresh," Stoglin said. "When we started out on this trip, we had eight players. Carlos Strong went to China and we had one guy quit.
"I thought (Tate) really made some key plays. That's what it's about : making plays at the end of the game. Whether it's on defense or making a basket."
Immanuel McElroy, who closed with 15 points, drew a foul after Tate's block and hit both free throws put the game away.
"I wanted to come off the bench and give the team a spark anyway I could," Tate said. "I just wanted to play defense, rebound, score the easy buckets. We had a big lay-off, so we were kind of rusty in the beginning.
"We let (Florence) stay in, we tried in the end to make a run. I'm just thankful that we came out with a win."
Dodge City (12-6) seems to have grown accustomed to winning close at home.
With the exception of decisive victories against St. Louis, Kansas and Cedar Rapids, the Legend has seen leads evaporate late against road opponents.
"I guess this team is used to being in this situation," Legend coach Dale Osbourne said. "I don't know if that's a good thing. It's bad for me. My ulcers are killing me.
"We pull them out. (McElroy) came up with some great plays. Jermaine Tate had a great blocked shot."
The Legend appeared poised to build on an 85-75 lead in the final minute of the third quarter; the Flyers (6-12) were showing signs of fatigue after trailing 69-68 just six minutes earlier.
Dodge City was hampered by five turnovers to close out the quarter, though, and Florence got within 85-81 entering the final quarter.
"I guess the only good thing about this situation is that we've been here before," Osbourne said. "Guys stay calm and collected and they execute toward the end. As a coach, though, you hate to see this."
Florence's Truscott scored 29 points to lead all scorers; Tai Crutchfield added 21 for the Flyers.
Tate's inside success started early, overpowering Florence defenders for inside position to score 13 first-quarter points.
Tate's presence was later handicapped by fouls.
He was benched late in the first half after receiving his third foul for reaching in on a Crutchfield drive; Tate then picked up a technical foul for arguing with an official after physical play in the paint early in the third quarter.
With Kansas' loss at Brooklyn, Dodge City moves into a first-place tie in the Midwest Division of the United States Basketball League.
Dodge City travels to St. Louis for 7:10 p.m. tipoffs Friday and Saturday.
Cedar Rapids hosts Dodge City a week later before the Legend begin a five-game home stand against Kansas.
NOTES: Florence's Tyson Patterson returned to the Civic Center after spending two years with Dodge City. Patterson was part of the 2000 title team under former Legend coach Kent Davison. "It feels good to come back. It feels like I'm at home," Patterson said. "This where I started out. My first time playing professional basketball was in Dodge City. I feel the energy. It feels good to be back. (Dodge City) taught me how to win, how to be a professional." Immanuel McElroy was named Honorable Mention for USBL Player of the Week honors Tuesday. He averaged 16 points in two victories at the Civic Center this past week.
FLORENCE (109) : Woodson 6-8 2-3 14, Parmer 8-16 2-2 19, Crutchfield 7-18 4-10 21, Jones 5-14 1-5 11, Patterson 5-15 3-3 15, Truscott 14-20 1-3 29. Totals 45-91 13-26 109.
DODGE CITY (112) : Dye 3-7 202 8, Young 8-14 2-4 19, Williams 4-7 1-2 9, Okeson 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Bergersen 3-7 3-3 10, McElroy 5-10 5-6 15, Boseman 4-8 0-0 9, Rawlings 1-2 2-4 5, Tate 9-10 6-10 24, Watts 6-9 1-4 13. Totals 43-74 22-35 112.
Florence 30 26 25 28 - 109
Dodge City 26 36 23 27 - 112
Halftime : Dodge City 62, Florence 56. 3-point goals : Florence 6-13 (Parmer 1-1, Crutchfield 3-9, Patterson 2-3), Dodge City 4-8 (Young 1-3, Bergersen 1-2, Boseman 1-1, Rawlings 1-2). Rebounds : Florence 43 (Jones 10), Dodge City 44 (McElroy 9). Assists : Florence 25 (Parmer 11), Dodge City 21 (Boseman 6, McElroy 6). Turnovers : Florence 19, Dodge City 23. Fouls : Florence 23, Dodge City 20. Fouled out : none. Technical fouls : Florence 2 (Crutchfield, Illegal Defense), Dodge City 2 (Illegal Defense, Tate).