The Lansing Pharaohs entered a busy weekend of basketball which featured back-to-back home games against TBL opponents on Friday and Saturday and a home exhibition match against the Windsor Express of the National Basketball League of Canada on Sunday afternoon. With a 3-3 record in TBL play and a current third-place rank in the Upper Midwest Division of the TBL (the top 3 teams in each division make the playoffs), the Pharaohs would look to gain separation against divisional opponents outside of the top 3 and maintain their top 3 divisional ranking. Aided by the return of starting C, Rozelle Nix, and passionate Pharaoh’s fans who packed The Pyramid, the Pharaohs were able to get the job done.
Game #1 of the weekend featured a matchup against the red-hot Kentucky Enforcers (6-2 in TBL) of the Lower Midwest Division who entered the game on a 4-game win streak. The Enforcer’s high-powered offense put up an average of 120 PPG before entering the game and features the league’s leading scorer, Cameron Mitchell, who averages 34.5 PPG. The Pharaohs knew they’d have to step up on defense if they wanted to come out of the game with a victory, and they did just that. The game began with a hot offensive start and a terrific defensive start for the Pharaohs who ended the first quarter with a 17-point lead, 31-14. The second quarter resulted in a slight comeback from the Enforcers but the Pharaohs held their ground and continued their mix of excellent ball movement and stout defense leading to a 56-45 lead at the half. The Pharaohs would maintain their 11 point lead through the third finishing the quarter with a 73-62 lead with one quarter to play. The fourth quarter would begin with the Pharaohs putting the finishing touches on a frustrated Enforcers squad, that couldn’t seem to get anything going all game (except Mitchell who was still able to reach his season average with 35 points), by going on a 21-9 run that would put them up 23 points. Being up this much the Pharaohs chose to rest a majority of their starters to maintain stamina for the rest of their three-game homestand. The Enforcers gained some ground in garbage time minutes leading to a final score of 99-90. Highlights of the game included Sam Muldrow (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Rozelle Nix (13 points, 11 rebounds) both grabbing double-doubles, Latin Davis scoring a team-high 19 points, Maurice Jones dishing out 9 assists, and Ja’Myrin Jackson bringing it on the defensive end with 5 steals. Muhammed El-Amin, who has to be the most consistent scorer on the team, also delivered 18 points.
Game #2 of the weekend featured a matchup against a familiar divisional foe, the Cincinnati Warriors, who the Pharaohs beat with ease two weeks ago (112-104). The Pharaohs came out strong in the first quarter for yet another game, something fans are getting accustomed to seeing, ending the first quarter with a 29-22 lead. The Pharaohs would blow the game open in the second quarter with an abundant amount of scoring by a large variety of Pharaoh players leading to a 70-42 lead at the half. During the third quarter, the Pharaohs would begin to slow the game down and hold onto their 28-point lead as both teams scored 22 points in the quarter leading to a 92-64 lead going into the fourth. The fourth quarter remained uneventful as the Warriors folded allowing the Pharaohs to cruise to a 119-92 victory. The Pharaoh’s size proved to be too much to handle for the Warrior’s small-ball lineup as PF, Sam Muldrow (28 points, 8 rebounds), and C, Rozelle Nix (22 points, 15 rebounds) both had a field day and SF, Muhammed El-Amin also tallied a near triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists. Nix and Muldrow also both shot insanely high FG% with Nix shooting 80% from the floor and Muldrow shooting 71.5%, respectively. The Pharaohs also out-rebounded the Warriors by +13.
The Pharaohs find themselves in a great position after the weekend, sitting on a 5-3 conference record after going 5-1 in their last 6 games and 4-0 at home in The Pyramid. This team has shown drastic improvement since their opening weekend of basketball as they’ve gotten more comfortable playing with each other and continue to mesh well. C, Rozelle Nix, returning to play for the first time since game 1 of the season also provided a huge spark for this team and has allowed them to take another big step forward. When asked about what has happened to allow this team to improve throughout the season starting PF, Sam Muldrow stated that it all goes back to, “Us playing as a team, trusting our coach, and following through with our game plan”. Muldrow added, “It’s very important to have Nix back in the lineup, once he gets going it opens everything up”. Nix, who tallied double-doubles in both games this weekend after missing the last two weekends of action stated, “It’s a great feeling to be back.. I couldn’t wait to get back on the court and contribute”.