The Atlanta Hawks G League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, came into Friday’s single elimination game against Raptors 905 as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Erie was able to defeat the Mad Ants in the semifinal game after a great game from Raphiael Putney and Andrew White. The Raptors 905, however, were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and a tall task for Erie to overcome.
The first quarter saw the BayHawks get off to a fast start on both ends as Jeremiah Hollowell knocked down a couple of early shots to get Erie going. The team jumped out to a 15-6 lead before the Raptors, led by Lorenzo Brown, were able to get themselves back into the game with their stifling defense. Erie was able to get a couple of shots to fall as Josh Magette was able to distribute the ball well and managed to come out of the first quarter clinging to a 25-22 lead.
Raphiael Putney did his best to get in the paint for Erie with his massive wingspan and was able to stabilize things after the Raptors looked like they were going to get rolling early on in the second. The Raptors are a big team inside and were able to take advantage of offensive put-backs as Erie tried to stack the box with Jeremy Evans and the 6’10” Putney. Magette was able to make a huge couple of shots at the end of the second to keep Erie ahead but just barely as they held a 56-50 lead on the 905 at the half.
The BayHawks continued to try to pound the ball inside against the smaller Kennedy Meeks after halftime and had some success. The Raptors countered with some nice minutes from guard Aaron Best who was able to get the three point shot rolling.
7-footer Shavon Thompson was a load in the third down low for the 905 and the BayHawks had little answers for the sheer size of Thompson as the Raptors began to turn the momentum. Erie was able to slightly close the gap at the end of the third thanks to some drives to the rim by John Gillon but found themselves trailing at the end of three down 82-78.
The final quarter was simply no fun for the BayHawks. They found themselves committing a bevy of turnovers due to the 905’s pressure defense as normal contributors Tyler Cavanaugh and Andrew White continued to be ice cold from the field. Erie gave it their best shot but in the end it was the Raptors 905’s defense that owned the second half and helped them to a win.
The Raptors will face the Austin Spurs in the Championship series to decide a G-League champion.
Congratulations to the Erie BayHawks for a great season on the whole. Surely the patrons in Northeastern Pennsylvania are thankful to see some winning basketball after a rough couple of seasons before Coach Longstaff and his team took over and, for a handful of players, a likely trip to join the Hawks for the final two games appears likely.