The Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks continued to make history Sunday at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum.
P.J. Couisnard erupted for 32 points, including 19 in the first half when the Mavs were building a big lead, and Anthony “A-Train” Jackson solidified a Finals MVP performance to lead the defending champs to a 116-91 win over the gutty Miami Midnites.
With their 92nd consecutive victory dating back to 2010, the Mavericks (32-0) won their second straight and league-record fourth overall American Basketball Association Championship.
“It feels great, it really does,” said an emotional head coach Steve Tucker after his ABA-record 207th career win. “This has been a great journey with a very special team, and these guys earned this championship. They are a very special group of men, and I’m just blessed they carried me along for the ride.”
The Mavs started strong, using a 25-3 run to go up 29-13 after the first quarter. Tony Hooper, who finished with 24 points, fired in nine points in the opening frame while Cousinard dropped in seven to spark the team.
Couisnard continued his hot streak in the second quarter, scoring 12 points as the Mavs stretched the lead to 52-34 at half. The Mavs held the Midnites (19-7) to 31% shooting in the first 24 minutes.
“It’s the time of year when you’ve got to step up and take charge,” said Couisnard, who took over as the team’s starting point guard late in the season and shined in the role. “I wanted us to come out and make a statement early, and we did that. This is my third championship, and it’s probably the sweetest because of the guys on this team I’m sharing it with.”
The Midnites would not go quietly, however. Ray Taylor led Miami back in the fourth quarter after the Mavs had built leads of as much as 29 points. Taylor, who led all scorers with 36 points, hit a slew of big 3-pointers as the Midnites cut the deficit to 13 points with four minutes to play.
Then, “The Silent Assassin” took over.
League MVP-favorite Josh Pace reeled off six straight points in 45 seconds, then hit Jackson with a brilliant bounce pass on the fast break that was goaltended, stretching the lead back to 19 points. And the celebration was on.
“I can’t even explain how I’m feeling right now,” said Jackson, who had a team season-high 42 points in Saturday night’s victory. “To win this, my third ABA title, with this franchise, with these guys… it’s special, man. I can’t even believe it yet.”
“Jack’s a great player, and he deserved that MVP award,” said Tucker. “He played his heart out in these Finals, and really gave us everything he had since he’s been here. I’m really happy for him.”
Pace finished with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. The “Twin Towers” – Jon Rogers and Brandon Davis – combined for 15 points, 19 rebounds, and four blocked shots. Davis, the favorite to win ABA Defensive Player of the Year, led a third-quarter run that stretched the Mavs’ lead to its largest.
Joining Taylor in double figures for the Midnites were Amir Celestion and Kenny Bellinger with 12 points each. Rogers and Davis limited star center Will Frisby, who had 29 points and 10 rebounds against Jacksonville Thursday, to just eight points and nine boards.
“They’re all special, and this one’s no different,” said Tucker. “I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, and proud of what these guys have done to represent the ‘Maverick Way’.”
— Kirk Copeland, Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks