Lindenwold, New Jersey-January 27, 2018; Scotland, Pennsylvania-January 28, 2018-The Philly Cannons hosted the Steel City Yellow Jackets out of Pittsburgh at Lindenwold High School Saturday night but the change of scenery produced a familiar result. The Yellow Jackets, ranked 8th in the weekly national poll for the American Basketball Association (ABA) with a record of 11-2 prior to the game, looked every bit the part in taking a 72-58 halftime lead. But the pesky Cannons were able to make a run and cause some problems for Steel City in the second half. “They are definitely one of the more athletic squads you will encounter in the ABA, and I tried to prepare us for that,” said second year Head Coach, Roger Beckwith.
The Cannons were bolstered by two Shippensburg University graduates, swingman Jay Hardy, who returned to the Cannons after a FIBA stint in Columbia, South America and point guard Abe Massaley, a 2017 All-PSAC selection. Hardy paced Philly in scoring with 21 points, while 6’9” Deione “Dex” Lathem added 20 points inside. Six other Cannons reached double figures including Dehaven Brown’s 16 off the bench, Malcolm Richardson’s 15, Rell Harrington’s 14, and twelve apiece from Ramair Garner and the aforementioned Massaley.
Playing at their satellite home gymnasium in central Pennsylvania, the Cannons hosted the Grizzlies Sunday afternoon in a rematch of their 77-76 loss two weeks prior. The shorthanded Cannons were missing Hardy, Richardson, and sharpshooter Ben Holl from the game the day before but received a big shooting night from Rell Harrington with 35. Massaley came off the bench to drop 23 while Lathem added 21. Kassim Green (19) and Rasheed Walker (18) also reached double figures but a lack of defensive stops at crucial moments prevented Philly from pulling out a victory according to Cannons Head Coach, Roger Beckwith.
“Where do I begin? I know we are a talented team but fundamentals often fall by the wayside during our games; how do these teams get so many second and third shot opportunities against us?” Beckwith said in a perplexed manner. “It’s hard to understand, and I have to get Dex some help…but I don’t want to take anything away from Fredericksburg and Steel City; those are two good teams and they provide a measuring stick against some tough ABA competition so we know we have work to do to become a legitimate title contender in the American Basketball Association.”
The Cannons will have a bye week to support their city brethren the Philadelphia Eagles in the Superbowl. “The Sixers are on the rise, if the Eagles pull this off, maybe it’s a sign of things to come for the Cannons” offered a smiling Beckwith. ABA action resumes for the Cannons February 10, 2018 in Pittsburgh for the second go round with the now 7th ranked Steel City Yellow Jackets. “My players are looking forward to the rematch with the Yellow Jackets; we don’t get blown out… a breakthrough is coming, I can feel it,” said an encouraged Beckwith.
The ABA consists of over 100 teams nationwide, and the Cannons compete in the Chesapeake Division with the Baltimore Hawks, Pottstown Flames, NEPA Stars and Stripes, Prince George County Valor, York Buccaneers, Reading Wizards, Scranton Shamrocks, the Lancaster Wolfpack and the Western Maryland Bulldogs. Please visit www.phillycannons.com & www.abaliveaction.com for more information.