History was made in Springfield, Massachussetts on June 19 with the first-ever ECBL Mid-Atlantic championship game. It was a clash of the top two teams in the seven-team circuit with host Western Mass Zombies facing the Hub City Hogs. The game turned into an instant classic as the home team battled back to win in overtime 122-117.
Prior to the game Zombies guard Tylon Smith was awarded the Mid-Atlantic MVP award. Helping led the Zombies to the best record in the regular season, Smith averaged 25.2 points along with 6.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. The 28-year old played four seasons at NCAA Division II Southern Connecticut State, starting in 117 of 125 games.
Smith was a key factor in the championship game as well. Leading by three after one quarter, Hub City took control in the second on their way to a 56-49 halftime advantage. The Hogs would extend that lead in the third, at one time leading by 12. Hub City took an 86-77 lead into the fourth.
It was then that the Zombies made their run, outscoring the visitors 11-2 in the opening minutes to tie the game at 88-88. With momentum on their side along with an enthusiastic home crowd Western Mass looked on their way to raising the trophy. Leading by two with just :06 on the clock Hub City tied the game 109-109. A long three pointer at the buzzer was off the mark sending the game into overtime.
Defense tightened in the extra period before a three pointer by Smith gave the Zombies a 112-111 lead they would not give up. Smith would score the final 11 points for the Zombies on his way to a game-high 32 points along with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“First of all want to congratulate Tylon Smith on being named Mid-Atlantic MVP for the regular season and also being named Finals MVP,” said Zombies head coach Brian Stasaitis. “This game was a battle from the start. Both teams competed extremely hard and the players left everything they had on the court.”
Jahmerikah Green-Younger poured in 26 points for Western Mass while Tyler Desrosiers added 22 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The big man in the middle for Western Mass, Malik Petteway, had another game to remember scoring 12 points while pulling down 19 rebounds and six blocked shots. Petteway was second among all ECBL players in rebounds (17.1 per game) during the regular season.
Robby Jones provided offense off the bench with 15 points while Larry McKinney scored four points and eight boards.
“I want to congratulate the Hub City Hogs on a great season. They are truly a professional and first class organization, added Stasaitis. “Our players have battled all season long and played together down the stretch to come back from a second half double digit deficit. This was truly a team victory, every player contributed, whether they were on the court or on the bench. These guys have been a pleasure to coach, but the job is not done!”
Up next the Western Mass Zombies (11-3) is a date with the champions of ECBL South – PrimeTime Players (15-2) in the first ECBL Super Cup. The game is scheduled for Saturday 6:00 PM at Combine Academy in Lincolnton, North Carolina.