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Lakestars recover from sluggish start to end Golden Kings’ hot streak

by Ed Odeven

Shiga Lakestars coach Bob Pierce must have blurted out a few choice words after his team gathered around him before the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

The Lakestars faced a 19-point deficit during that break in the action.

But they quickly recovered, using a super second quarter to fuel an 81-75 victory over the previously unbeaten Golden Kings.

Ryan Rourke was Shiga’s leading scorer with 23 points, while Bobby Nash (15), Ray Schafer (14) and Takamichi Fujiwara (11) helped to carry the offensive load.

Pierce’s club outscored Ryukyu 20-3 in the second quarter and took that momentum into the second half.

Naoto Takushi led the Golden Kings with 20 points, followed by Anthony McHenry’s 17, Jeff Newton’s 16 and 11 rebounds and Shigeyuki Kinjo’s 10.

Showing the feisty nature of a veteran playoff club, Shiga (4-6) moved into fourth place in the Western Conference six weeks after playing its first-ever bj-league game.

Also Sunday, the Osaka Evessa beat the Oita HeatDevils for the second time in as many days, recording a 102-83 triumph in Kyushu.

Two-time MVP Lynn Washington scored a game-high 28 points on 12-for-15 shooting to lead six Evessa players in double digits. Nile Murry added 19 and Naoto Nakamura 16.

The Evessa (6-4) won the battle of the boards in convincing fashion, outrebounding the HeatDevils (45-24).

James Wilkinson led Oita (2-8) with 24 points.

The host Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, meanwhile, defeated the Toyama Grouses 103-80 and improved to 6-4.

Hamamatsu scored 90 or more points for the sixth time this season.

Unselfish play sparked the Phoenix’s offense, as evidenced by the team’s 25 assists (and only 10 turnovers) and 70.2 percent shooting from inside the 3-point arc.

Andy Ellis put 22 points on the board for Hamamatsu, followed by frontcourt mate Adam Zahn’s 21. Michael Gardener orchestrated the offensive synergy with a seven-assist effort.

The visiting Tokyo Apache completed a two-game sweep of the Saitama Broncos, ending the weekend with an 83-80 overtime triumph.

The win gives Tokyo a 5-3 record and elevates Joe Bryant’s club into first place in the Eastern Conference.

Masashi Joho paced the Apache with 22 points, John Humphrey contributed 17 and steady center Nick Davis had 15 points, 17 boards and five assists.

In Tohoku, the Sendai 89ers earned their fourth straight victory, topping the Niigata Albirex BB 75-66.

Bobby St. Preux had 22 points for Sendai, which raised its record to 6-4. Kenichi Takahashi (14 points) and Chris Holm (12) completed the team’s double-digit trio.

Yu Okada’s emergence as a go-to scorer helped the visiting Takamatsu Five Arrows pick up a 99-83 victory over the Rizing Fukuoka.

Okada led the Five Arrows (6-4) with 27 points and dished out eight assists. Rasheed Sparks also shared the wealth on offense, ending the game with eight assists and 16 points.