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Training Camp Finale Results in 17-Point Victory During Intrasquad Scrimmage

RALEIGH, NC (February 26th, 2022) - To cap off the Raleigh Firebirds' training camp, the team played an intrasquad game, in order to bring a little excitement and give Coach Bob MacKinnion and team owner Wade Harris more time to evaluate the players. The scrimmage was formatted the same way as a normal TBL game, except that quarters were 8 minutes instead of 12. According to Coach MacKinnion, teams were formed based on what he thought would be fair matchups, and a balance in talent. Team Gray was the home team, while Team Black was the away team.

Each team had seven players. Team Gray's seven players were:

Marquse Sumner

Mykael Faulcon

Myquan Gooding

Donal Gooch

James McKelvin

Matt McClain

Darius Leonard

Team Black's seven players were:

Kenny Collins

Brock Young

Desmond Jackson

Aaron Baker

Daquan Lilly

Daequon Antoine

Chris Chaney

Andre Pierce

The first points of the game were scored by Daequon Antoine, which came during a pair of free throws. Unfortunately, the game got off to a very slow start. "The first five minutes didn't go very well," said rookie James McKelvin. There were lots of careless turnovers, and two minutes into the game, point guard Brock Young subbed out, citing a cramp as the problem. The cramp went away later on in the evening, but Young decided to play it safe, saying, "I'm gonna shut it down until next week."

After five minutes, the score was only 2-2! Both teams were having trouble scoring, not because they couldn't get their offenses running and not because the defense was amazing; their shots just weren't falling. Once the teams began working the ball inside the paint, they found it easier to score. However, the score was still only 12-9 in favor of Team Gray at the end of the first quarter.

Both teams would start scoring in the second quarter, and at halftime, the score was 42-30, in favor of Team Gray. One of the reasons Team Black was putting up such a good fight was because of Chris Chaney. Chaney had two great finishes in the first half, and he drained a three as well. Chaney finished the game with 14 points and 6 rebounds, while shooting 60% from the field and 50% from three. Chaney's Euro-Steps were beautiful, and he seemed to effortlessly glide into the lane and score over big men. "I'm long," said Chris when asked how he scored so easily in the paint. "I got long arms, I try to just keep my arms out so bigs can't get it like Darius {Leonard} or like Des{Mond Jackson}."

There are many personalities on the Firebirds, and some interesting events that occurred in the game. One of these was the "battle" of the big men, between Darius Leonard and Desmond Jackson. Leonard played college ball at Wake Forest, Jackson at UNC; because both are centers, they found themselves matched up with each other for most of the game. With 1:40 left in the first quarter, Leonard rose up for a mid-range jump shot, only to find it blocked by Jackson. Later on, Jackson pinned down a layup by McKelvin, his second block of the game. "Good timing, staying on the floor," Jackson said when he was asked what the trick to blocking shots was.

Unfortunately, as good as Jackson was on defense, he couldn't generate any offense, finishing with 0 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 26 minutes of play. Leonard, on the other hand, had a great game. He finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 40% from three. Leonard had six points at the end of the first quarter, and during halftime, Leonard and Jackson got into a friendly discussion on the sideline. Leonard mentioned to Jackson that he had no points. "Tell him {Leonard} defense wins championships," Jackson said to me. Leonard overheard this, and reminded him, "But you're losing!"

The Gray team continued to hold their double-digit lead throughout the 3rd quarter, as Team Black couldn't catch fire from anywhere on the court. "We need to get some stops, get some shots," said Kenny Collins at halftime. Collins started the third quarter on the bench for Team Black. "I gotta say myself. I'd be lying if I didn't say myself," said Kenny with a grin when asked who the best shooter on the team is. "But Brock's second," said Kenny, patting his teammate on the back. With two minutes left in the third quarter, Collins nailed a three in the corner, and as he ran back up the court, he pointed at me, saying, "I told you so!"

Unfortunately, with 4.1 seconds left in the 3rd, a foul was called on a three-point shot, resulting in three free throws. Collins was upset with the call, and made his opinion known to one of the two refs working the game. The ref hit Collins with a T, resulting in the first and only technical foul of the game. "First ever T," Collins later said. At the end of the 3rd, Gray was up, 56-44.

In Team Gray's huddle, McKelvin told his teammates that Team Black would likely pressure them throughout the fourth quarter. Later, as the quarter was starting, I went to Team Black's bench, and asked Young if the team would be pressuring during the fourth quarter. "Yeah, for sure," was his response. This clearly demonstrates the high basketball IQ of the players on the Firebirds.

Unfortunately, Team Black could not complete the comeback, and the final score of the game was 74-57. "We just came out and played," said Marquse Sumner. "We missed some shots, but we got back in transition, and our defense gave us more points." Coach MacKinnion was happy with how the guys played, despite the way that matchups were thrown off by injuries.

The Firebirds season starts on Friday, March 4th, against the Carolina Coyotes. While the roster for the season will have to be narrowed down by MacKinnion and Harris, it's going to be a great year. The Firebirds are a talented squad, and if everyone stays healthy, there's no reason this team can't win the 2022 TBL Championship.


Thank you Renee Neptune for the bottom two photos!

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1 Comment

Cynthia Baker
Cynthia Baker
Mar 17, 2022

hey what happened to Aaron Baker the hot shooting forward from last year?

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