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Bluff City Reign makes ABA’s elite eight round

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Pictured (l-r) Leroy Watson Jr., Sidney Adkins, Marvin Grandberry, William Bedford, Deon Lawson, Winston Banks and Benjamin Richardson. (Photo: George Tillman Jr.)

Special to The New Tri-State Defender

The American Basketball Association (ABA) is alive and well, with over 90 teams scattered throughout North America. It is only logical that one of the original ABA cities, Memphis, should have a franchise.

The Bluff City Reign, representing Memphis, are in the 2013 ABA playoffs and looking to take full advantage of the opportunity. The Reign went 26-6 during the 2011-’12 campaign, but lost in the first round of the postseason to the Chicago Fire.

This year, the team suffered through a tough regular season campaign but has ignited under the leadership of the new head coach, former Memphis State star Sidney Adkins. The Reign upset the Conway Cyclones and the Gulf Coast Flash to roar unexpectedly into the ABA Elite Eight.

They have done so behind Adkins’ fiery style, a stingy pressure defense, and All-Star point guard Maurice Mickens. Mickens has two 50-plus point games this season, including a 57-point performance in the Reign’s last contest.

On the road in Biloxi, Miss., the Reign went up 8-3 before the home team reeled off 17 points in a row. The 20-8 deficit steadily grew until the Reign were down 83-56, a daunting 27-point deficit, in the third quarter.

Behind Mickens, the Reign roared back to force a tie before prevailing, 135-128, in overtime. Guard Mario Rhodes added 22 points, and center Deon Lawson chipped in with 17 points, and team-highs of 15 rebounds and four blocks. Team captain Andreus Lee managed nine points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

The Reign’s current active roster includes:

Cordero Bowen, Devon Buckley, Marvin Grandberry, Frank Henderson, Deon Lawson, Andreus Lee, Maurice Mickens, Mario Rhodes, Michael Watson and Justin Williams. All of them except for Bowen attended high school in Memphis, and many played collegiate ball at either The LeMoyne-Owen College or Southwest Tennessee Community College for two or more years.

 The administrative staff includes owner Reggi Golden Sr., vice president of Operations William Bedford (who helped lead then-Memphis State to the Final Four in 1985), General Manager Winston Banks, and Director of Basketball Operations Benjamin Richardson. Leroy Watson Jr. is assistant coach/media liaison.

 

(Bluff City Reign Media Liaison Leroy Watson Jr. contributed to this story.)

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