By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Frost Heaves repeat as ABA champions
QUEBEC CITY, Quebec — Despite injuries to starters Issa Konare and Brett Gravitt, the Vermont Frost Heaves defeated the San Diego Wildcats 87-84 Sunday evening at the Pavillon de la Jeunesse to win their second consecutive ABA title.
Guard Dwuan Rice was named MVP of the ABA Final 8 Championships after contributing 18 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals in the final. Rice had also rescued Vermont in Saturday’s semifinal defeat of Texas after Konare went down with lower back spasms.
Center Dokun Akingbade added 15 points in the final, while Gravitt contributed 12 and Dwayne Lee 11 for Vermont, which ended its season 37-4. The only team to beat the Frost Heaves all season, the Manchester Millrats, lost to San Diego in the semifinals.
“I’m sure most people wrote us off after they saw Brett on crutches and Issa unable to move after Saturday’s game,” said Frost Heaves coach Will Voigt. “But this game exemplified our whole season.”
“Obviously, Dwuan and Dokun led the way, but each and every guy stepped up. We couldn’t stick within our system because our system got thrown out the window with injuries.”
San Diego held a 44-41 lead after a see-saw first half in which the Wildcats sank six of 11 three-point attempts. But the Californians missed All-Star guard Cardell Butler, the former And1 Mix Tapes Tour player, who sat out much of the half with foul trouble.
After a tight third quarter Vermont pushed out to a 75-67 lead in the fourth as Gravitt and Markus Austin took turns defending Butler, who was limited to 14 points for the game.
The Wildcats sank only one three-pointer in the second half, but they closed to within 84-82 with a minute to play. That’s when Vermont strung together several defensive stops, along with free throws from Austin and Rice, to clinch the title.
Jamal Kendrick, whom Voigt coached in the Los Angeles Summer Pro League in his first coaching job a decade ago, led San Diego with 21 points.
The Frost Heaves’ team bus left Quebec City Monday morning for the National Guard Armory in Berlin, where the team was greeted and met by their fans at 5 p.m.
All games in the ABA Final 8 Championship are being archived for free viewing over the Web. Go to vermontfrostheaves.comand click on the link on the home page.
The Frost Heaves’ Official Team Sponsors are VSECU and the Vermont Army National Guard.