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Tuesday, 17 March 2020 11:29


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TORONTO, CA (AP) -- Despite 26 points and 16 rebounds from the OBWL's leading scorer and reigning MVP Charles Flowers, the Kansas City Pioneers managed to escape from Toronto with a 105-103 win over the Huskies. In a hard fought game that featured a clash between All Star big men in Flowers and the Pioneers' own Charles Cazares, it was sometimes-starting center Joe Turner who improbably won the game for Kansas City.

With the game tied at 80 heading into the fourth quarter, the Huskies pushed out to a 7 point lead on Jonathan Weaver's three pointer with 4:45 left in the game. The Pioneers tightened up defensively over the next four minutes, taking a 103-100 lead on a free throw by Charles Cazares with just :14 seconds remaining.

The Huskies set the stage for a dramatic finish when Motya Kamensky hit Flowers in the corner with a cross-court pass on the next possession. Flower's clutch three-pointer bounced on the rim and finally fell through with only 4 seconds left.

As the ball bounced on the rim, center Joe Turner, who had prematurely rotated over to Toronto SG Carl White and gave Flowers the opening he needed for his shot, began drifting out to midcourt. As the Toronto crowd went wild when the score was tied, Cazares alertly took the ball from the net, stepped behind the baseline and fired an outlet to Turner just short of the midcourt line.

The pass caught White off guard but he recovered quickly and picked up Turner as the big man dribbled up court. Four seconds seemed like an eternity as Turner lumbered towards the free throw line extended on the left wing with White on his hip, slowly rose up and banged through a contested jumper as time expired. Turner and his team mates quickly ran off the court and through the tunnel to the visitor's locker to celebrate the win.

Prior to his game-winning shot, Turner was just 1-3 from the floor. Turner finished with 7 points, 9 rebounds, and a career-worst 7 turnovers in 36 minutes. Charles Cazares led the Pioneers with 22 points (7-14 fgs, 8-10 fts), 9 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Rookie Ambrose Vela added 15 points (6-13 fgs, 3-4 fts), 8 rebounds, and tied for the team high with 4 assists off the bench. Starting his 5th game of the season in place of the injured Mark Marble, SG David Kitchens added 16 points (7-13 fgs) in 22 minutes.

Charles Flowers led the Huskies with 26 points but was held to just 10-29 shooting (.344) from the field. For the game, Toronto shot just 37% (37-100 fgs) from the floor.

A Milestone Win

In the locker room, the Pioneers learned they had more to celebrate than a clutch win on a random Wednesday night in February. The win over the Huskies was President of Basketball Operations Ben Johnson's 1,000th as an OBWL General Manager. In 16 seasons as an OBWL executive (three with the Arizona Thunderbirds, thirteen with the Pioneers) Johnson's career record now stands at 1,000-244 (.804). Johnson becomes the first OBWL GM to reach the 1,000 win mark.

In the locker room Johnson, traveling with the team on its pre-All Star break road trip, made a brief statement: "It's been an honor to have been involved with the OBWL since it began 16 years ago. I've been really fortunate to work with great owners, coaches, and players thoughout my career. Obviously I can't take all the credit for the success we've shared in over the years. I think the thing I am proudest about reaching 1,000 wins is that it respresents consistency. You don't get to 1,000 without doing the work every season, grinding, and giving the attention to detail and effort our great game deserves. I really believe that if you respect the game, don't shortchange the less flashy aspects of the game like scouting, developing a budget, etc. then you can consistently have success season after season."

That evening the team, including the coaching staff and general manager, celebrated the historic win at Harbour 60 steakhouse in Toronto.

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