The Pistons Academy Rookie League, presented by Kroger, had been practicing hard for the first few weeks of the season leading up to last night’s “Opening Night,” where teams took to the floor for their first taste of game competition. Family and friends were packed into the stands at Franklin Athletic Club as they anxiously awaited the opening tip of the season. Hustle and determination on the court, paired with some in-game announcing and classic jams, led to an amazing Opening Night environment. “It was a great atmosphere in the gym and you could really feel the excitement,” said League Director Bryan Bollin. “Of course, it didn’t hurt that both games were extremely close and came down to the wire. It was a great first night of games for our Rookies!” For complete game recaps and box scores, please continue reading below:
SPURS 14, CELTICS 12: Our first game on Thursday evening between the Spurs and Celtics was an exciting one, as both teams battled hard for 28 minutes. The Celtics almost pulled off a miracle comeback, as they trailed 12-6 with just over 2 minutes remaining. Carter Williams (2 points) and Ziv Ferber (4 points) led the rally, as they turned up the defensive pressure and forced the Spurs into some costly turnovers. Ferber also showed a nice ability to pass the ball and find the open man, helping his teammates get easy looks at the basket. Using a full-court press, the Celtics were able to tie the game at 12-12 late in the second half. However, Tyler Ruth ended the comeback bid, as he scored a big bucket late in the game for the Spurs (1-0). Ruth had a game-high 8 points, including 6 in the second half. Austin Gillery (3 points), Xavier Jones (2 points), and Connor Moorer (1 point) rounded out the scoring for the Spurs. Jordan Greer also played some incredible defense as he was consistently in the right spots and always in a strong defensive stance. For the Celtics (0-1), Tyler Robinson, Maddox Smith, and Landon Smith each scored 2 points. Both teams will look to build on their Opening Night performances and continue to improve.
LAKERS 14, HAWKS 14 (2OT): This instant classic could not have been a closer, more tightly contested game than what we witnessed on Thursday night in the second contest of our Opening Night doubleheader. Not even double overtime could settle the score between these two, as the game finished in a 14-14 tie. Both teams traded buckets throughout the entire game, as it remained a one or two possession game at all times. Dominic Washington, Parker Rost, and Jackson Mansfield scored 4 points apiece to lead the Lakers (0-0-1). Rost and his front court mate, Joseph Bradley (2 points) were big on the offensive and defensive glass as they helped the Lakers control the glass for much of the game. CJ Brown and Carter Rowls added some tough defense, and the Lakers looked like a formidable group. For the Hawks, Xan Scheinfield (6 points) and Tarek Agha (4 points) paced the Hawks in scoring and served as the teams primary ball handlers. Braylon Fields displayed some nice passing skills to go along with the tough defense of Jonah Cimmino and Joshua Peltz for the Hawks (0-0-1). With the score tied at almost every point in the game, it became apparent that these two teams were evenly matched and we might need overtime to find a winner. In the overtime periods, each team had some good looks at the basket and free throw opportunities, but neither was able to convert. With both teams pressing to score the game-winner, the game was starting to get a little choppy and teams were no longer finding the open looks they enjoyed in the first overtime. After double-overtime, the teams had to settle for a 14-14 tie and a promise to see each other again down the road. You won’t want to miss the rematch of these two teams!