2017 FBA Season/17.05.29/SJT@MON/Capsule

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Live, from Treasure State Arena in Billings, MT, it's game one of the quarterfinal matchup between the Montana Howlers and the San Jose Thrust! The top-seeded Howlers look to start off these playoffs with a win, while the eighth-seeded Thrust look to duplicate Dakota's feat last year and knock off the best of the West! I'm Vivienne Walcott (Harp Seal, Female), reporting for FSPN! The ball's in the air, and we're underway! Montana gets a strong start from their small forward Vincent Maraundi, who scores the first eight points of the night. San Jose appears to be reeling, down 8-0 in the blink of an eye, but Jonathan Lawyer and Blythe Nacht punch right back, sparking a return run of 14-2 to put the visitors ahead 14-10 halfway through the period. From there, the teams go blow-for-blow, until a missed triple by Kresta Renstill, down 26-20, with three seconds left, gives the Thrust one final chance. Lawyer heaves the ball from about fifty feet..... and incredibly, it banks in hard off the backboard! You can hear the crowd go silent, save for the raucous cheers of the purple-clad visitors section! After one, your leading scorers are Lawyer of the Thrust with 12, and Maraundi of the Howlers with 12 himself. SJT 29 MON 20

And we're back for the second quarter of Thrust/Howlers here in Billings! This session has fewer runs than the last, with no team scoring more than five straight. Lawyer cools off slightly from his rampage of the first 12, scoring just two points, though he does have a pair of nice assists to Dewitt Azad Ghakhar. Alessandro Serra even gets involved, slamming home a couple of flashy dunks and keeping the fire lit under his teammates' tails. The Thrust keep the pressure on Montana, even as Kresta Renstill catches absolute fire, scoring 18 of the Howlers' 28 in the frame! But at the half, San Jose keeps a sizeable lead on their opponents, as Lawyer leads them with 14 points. Dewitt and Alessandro share the boards lead at three, and Lawyer leads the assist party with three. Kresta leads the Howlers with 22 points and 4 boards, and Ren leads with 5 assists. At the half, it's SJT 56, MON 48

Welcome back to Treasure State Arena, for the third quarter of game 1 between the Thrust and the Howlers! The Thrust began the half with a 56-48 lead, and come on strong as play resumes, looking to bolster their advantage and keep momentum in their favor. Serra and Ghakhar play strong defense in limiting Montana's big scoring duo, as Renstill goes without a single point this frame, leaving it up to Ren to spread the rock to unexpected sources. It's mostly the bench keeping the Howlers in it at this point, but once again, a buzzer-beating shot (just a 2 this time) from Lawyer stretches the Thrust's advantage going into the final frame. SJT 83, MON 77

And it's time for the fourth and final quarter from Billings, Montana! When we last left off, San Jose had a lead of a half-dozen, paced by Lawyer's 18 points. And strangely, on the Montana side, it's been a tale of runs by individuals, and this final dozen minutes proves no different. Maraundi began the attack, followed by Renstill and Inoue. Now, it's Sterling Bengtzing's turn. The big polecat appears to do too much, however, on a play midway through the frame with the Thrust up by 17 diving for a loose ball. The unexpected move doesn't hurt Sterling, but in the ensuing scrum, his hand catches Lawyer's left eye with a slap, causing Jonathan quite a bit of soreness. He appears to want to continue, but with that big of an advantage, the Thrust have him sit for the rest of the game, just to be safe. He's seen on camera, muttering some choice words at the smelly mustelid as he departs. The officials convene, but in the end, they rule the slap inadvertent, and it's just a regular foul. Sterling shrugs off the incident quickly, and it's back to basics for him, getting some key rebounds and defensive plays to keep Montana in it. The Howlers use a 19-3 run following Lawyer's absence to pull within 102-101 with about a minute to go, but a lapsed defensive coverage allows Dewitt to break away for a vicious 360 dunk with 55 seconds left. Following the dunk, the markhor is seen clutching his abdomen and heading to the bench. A missed 3 by Kresta later, San Jose uses five free throws to ice the contest, givig the visitors an unexpected, seven-point victory. The PotG award goes to Lawyer, who leads San Jose to victory with a 20p-4r-5a line. Blythe Nacht leads Thrust scorers with 23, and Dewitt and Alessandro match the meerkat's 4 rebounds. Ren Inoue gets the Loudest Howler, scoring 26 with 9 boards and 11 assists. He's just one bord shy of a trip-dub, but all indications are he'd rather have the win. Bengtzing gets 10 rebounds to lead Montana. Game two is Wed. night in Billings! I'm Vivienne Walcott, and we'll see you then! SJT 109, MON 101

FSPN UPDATE

I spoke with Thrust trainers following the game, and they said the injuries suffered by Jonathan Lawyer and Dewitt Azad Ghakhar appear to be minor. Both are expected to be at full strength by Game 2.

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