(Long Island, NY) The Strong Island Sound ran out of magic. After winning 10 consecutive games and reaching the Final Four of the ABA in their inaugural season, they were defeated by the Southern California Legends by a score of 123-110 on March 25th.
The Sound took an early double digit lead led by diminutive guard Jerome “Fridge” Holeman, who scored 12 points in 14 minutes. A shoulder injury sustained in the second quarter shelved him for the remainder of the game.
The undersized Sound did not have an answer for SoCal’s 7’3″ center, Keith Closs, who previously played three seasons in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers. Closs finished with — points and — rebounds.
Strong Island made a fourth quarter run to cut a sixteen point deficit to six. But that was as close as they came to their third straight post season upset.
The ABA Championship game will be played on March 26th at 2:00 pm at the Blue Cross Arena. The host team of the Great 8 Tournament, the Rochester Razorsharks, qualified earlier in the day by defeating the San Jose Skyrockets.
The Strong Island Sound finished the 2005-06 season with an overall 19-15 record (16-14 in the regular season) and were ranked #13 in the ABA Power Rankings, finishing second in the Roger Brown Division. They won their last seven regular season games heading into the playoffs.
The Sound defeated the Birmingham Magicians in Long Island in the first round, and then beat the Strongdogs at Harlem in the second round, knocking off the division winner. By doing so, they were a surprise entry at the Rochester tournament and had to face the #1 seeded Indiana Alleycats. Down by 17 in the fourth quarter, the Sound came all the way back to take a two point lead. Indiana tied the game at the buzzer to send it into overtime.
The game was still tied after the first OT and the Sound eventually pulled out a 128-126 Double OT win when team captain Gary Williams hit two free throws.
The Cinderella Sound definitely were wearing their best shoes for the ‘big dance’. Unfortunately the glass slipper fell off before midnight.