Tritons try tons but come up short
- By Reggie Cross, Day 188, 2022
A broken chair and a big dent in a locker could be seen following the Tritons’ loss in Las Vegas. Somebody wasn't happy.
The players were extremely down yet composed after the game, massively disappointed in the loss by two points in overtime. Emotional Rashaan Hayes who could be seen both upset and depressed at how his team lost the game. All the player sat quietly, shocked that the season with high expectations were over.
Two overtime losses in the last three games were a horrible way to go out after all. The Tritons lost game 5 by one point in overtime forcing a must win game in Oakland for game 6. With the home crowd’s support, the Tritons brought everything they had in game 6 taking it by a score of 119-106.
The Triton players were on a high going into Sin City to try to win game 7 despite the return of “Tank” Wesley Sherman. They were prepared run around the slow-flooted big man and had a game plan to keep Lamar Francis from going berserk in the final game. It seemed to be working and kept it close with a score of 62-65 in the first half.
Then things turned sour. The Scorpions pounced on the Tritons in the third quarter outscoring them 30 to 22.
Down 84-95 after the third quarter, the Tritons fought back from an eleven point deficit in the third quarter and regained confidence and momentum that they could win game seven in overtime.
With Zeke Boreczky fouling out for the Tritons as well as Omar Grant and “Tank” Sherman for the Scorpions, it was left to stars Ivory and Peeler to handle things against Lamar Francis and Derrick Griffin to decide the two teams’ fates. In the end, it was not meant to be for the Tritons, with Marcus Ivory missing a potential go ahead shot sending the Tritons home with a painful overtime loss. Derrick Griffin’s clutch 42 points led to the Scorpions advancing to the second round against the Houston Lightning.
Points for the series
Ivory 22 35 25 31 41 29 31
Peeler 35 33 29 29 27 29 26
Traylor 10 4 16 10 16 10 27
Bench 20 16 20 8 9 29 23
Griffin 29 11 26 4 7 15 42
Francis 36 43 33 23 47 24 26
Grant 21 33 20 38 44 33 21
Bench 9 18 8 14 17 15 25
Outcome OAK LAS OAK LAS LAS OAK LAS
While it may seem that the stars decided the outcome of the games, in fact the bench scoring was the deciding factor in all seven games. Even in the final game, the two point differential in bench scoring was actually the difference in game 7.
After the pain and shock wears off, the Tritons will have some decisions to make in the offseason and before the playoffs end. With both Rahsaan Hayes and Alonzo Traylor having team options, GM Reggie Cross will need to decide if the Tritons will lock up the veterans for another year to keep the newly built core intact. With options of 7.2 million and 8 million, however, it would be a relatively steep price to pay with Rahsaan turning 33 and Traylor turning 35. The Tritons could decline the option and possibly negotiate new contracts with the veterans, however, free agency always comes with competitive risks.
After shedding Simon Hartford’s massive $25 million contract, the Tritons have a slight bit of cap flexibility of about $10 to $12 million if those options are declined. GM Cross has made it clear that Antoine Peeler will be re-signed at all costs. It is just a matter of constructing a deeper supporting cast to compliment the Ivory/Peeler duo that will be key for the Tritons to compete in 2023. With expired/minimum contracts with over one third of the team, decisions must be made to re-sign those players or not. Dimitri Karacic played a large role during the regular season before acquisitions of Traylor and Gayle forced him deeper in the bench. Devin Roberts, also a late acquisition gave quality minutes as Traylor's backup and will also be in consideration for retention.
For remaining players, Jake Donlon found his groove later in the season while playing tag team at point guard with young Evan Coleman while rookie Nikica Jankovic also showed promise with the minutes he played.
More post and wing presence will be of utmost importance. Whether that remains with the current veterans on the team or new acquisitions remains to be seen.
After the Tritons players left the locker room, GM Reggie Cross sat on a chair, dejected with his head down staring at the floor. A small scorpion crawled in front of his shoes.
"You damn little fucker!!" GM Cross lost it. GM Cross threw the chair across the room and and stomped the hell out of the critter. With Scorpion guts all on his shoes, GM cross kicked one of the lockers trying to get the shit off his shoes.
Cross screamed, "So damned close! What happened in Vegas better freaking stay in Vegas! This ain’t happening again! And screw this town for making us pay 20 bucks for parking at every place we park our ass for that damned T-mobile stadium!