Photograph by Valerie L. Cason, 7/8 Productions

Over 7,000 fans attended the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena to witness another towering Jacksonville Giant victory. The Giants won their ninth straight game in a commanding 131-102 win over the #20th ranked Baltimore Hawks. The game celebrated Medical Appreciation Night for workers in the Jacksonville area.

“The guys are meshing very well together,” said Giants head coach Jerry Williams. “I’m most proud of the effort they are putting in at practice.”

The fans witnessed Jacksonville play with a powerful defense and a potent offensive attack. The Giants had seven players score in double digits while outrebounding Baltimore 72-54. Jacksonville’s leading scorer was point guard Bernard Nugent, who finished the game with 22 points. Nugent also added a spark on defense with a team-high six steals.

“Bernard is really settling in as a leader,” said Williams whose team improves to 11-2 on the season. “He has been playing great basketball.”

Both teams played very competitively in the first quarter. The Giants started strong with great inside play from game MVP Bruce Brown and 2014 ABA MVP Jermaine Bell. Both Bell and Brown got things going early for Jacksonville landing crucial shots while helping in the rebounding department. Baltimore, however, played tough and kept the deficit at 27-20 to conclude the first quarter. Baltimore stayed competitive with great shooting from Nardie Bogus and Steve McCray. Bogus finished the game with 21 points, while McCray scored 20.

Jacksonville added to the lead with an offensive explosion in the second quarter. The Giants outscored Baltimore 42-25 during that time frame. The guard play of Maurice Mickens (19 points), Ed Horton (11 points), and Larry Dumas (14 points) was the difference. Mickens and Dumas both landed multiple three-point shots, with Horton assisting with several jumpers.

“We work hard as a team,” said Brown, who finished with a season-high 12 points. “We work very hard in practice.”

Jacksonville continued to push the pace in the second half. Brown, Elijah Smith and Aaron Bowen contributing to the performance with energizing slam dunks. Bowen and Smith also had thunderous ally-oops in the third quarter. Bell and Jerrod Tucker had double-doubles. Tucker had 17 points and 12 rebounds with Bell adding 12 points and 13 rebounds.

“We still have to keep working,” said Williams. “I’m proud of the guy’s efforts.”