Four Gawdsquad players get revenge over LA KIXX for National Tournament defeat
Two Atlanta teams traveled to Sky in Manhattan last month to participate in the New York National Tournament. LA KIXX and LTC Tree combined to go 3-1 in pool play, setting up a matchup between them in the quarterfinals, with LA KIXX getting a 72-62 win to move onto the semifinals.
Frankie Ghouchani, Brock Shorter, Darrick Wilkins and Hat McCarhty were all apart of that LTC Tree team. They all play together for Gawdsquad in the Atlanta Open League, and they faced off against LA KIXX last night with a chance to make up for the loss at Sky.
LA KIXX came in with an undefeated 7-0 record, winning their games by an average of 13.1 points. They had already beaten Gawdsquad once this season, as they picked up a 73-68 victory back in Week 2. They have all of the players that played in the National Tournament except Erik Herring, but they added William Belton, who’s averaging 23.1 points per game this season, second-best on the team, behind Derek Allen’s 25.4.
On paper, this LA KIXX team is better than the one they had at Sky. Gawdsquad has four players from LTC Tree, but they don’t have Arvin Zeinali (who plays in Dallas), who led them in points, assists and rebounds. They also don’t have Sari Papazian or Emery Range, two key players for LTC Tree in the tournament. So, on paper, they are a worse team than the one they had at Sky.
It’s a great thing games aren’t decided on paper, because Atlanta was treated to a thrilling upset for Gawdsquad, as they handed LA KIXX a 103-100 loss, their first of the season.
It was a high-scoring game, as both teams exceeded their season scoring average by over 14 points. This was because of lights-out shooting from both teams, as they combined to shoot 81-136 (60%) from the field. It’s not every day you see a team shoot 57% from the field and lose, but that’s exactly what happened to LA KIXX. That came to fruition due to Gawdsqaud shooting an obscene 15-22 from deep, and also scoring 10 more points from the free-throw line than LA KIXX. Those are ridiculous numbers in any game, but for them to shoot like that with only five players seems impossible.
Ghouchani led the way for Gawdsquad, as he scored a game-high 32 points on 10-18 shooting, while adding eight rebounds and 10 assists for a near triple-double. McCarthy, Wilkins and Shorter all shot 60% or better from the field, combining to score 44 points. The one non-LTC Tree player on the team, Lucky Johnson, had 27 points and eight rebounds. Just an overall clinic from all five players.
One key missing piece for LA KIXX was Kerry Heavens last night. His scoring average of 1 point per game won’t wow anyone, but he can significantly effect the game with his defense and rebounding, and it showed up in the box score. Gawdsquad shot 23-38 from inside the arc and also out-rebounded LA KIXX 34-29. If Heavens is in attendance, those numbers are likely swayed a bit.
I don’t think this game will get a lot of people to jump off LA KIXX’s bandwagon heading into the playoffs, as they’ll surely still be the favorites to win the title. But this does prove that they’re beatable, and Gawdsquad will be a problem in any elimination game.