January 10, 2016
Sunday’s game between the expansion Pontiac 66ers and the visiting Gateway Steam should have been covered by The Weather Channel because of the temperature extremes that converged in Pontiac—bitter cold, biting winds and ice-packed roads on the outside, but red-hot basketball action on the inside.
More than 800 people braved below-zero wind chills to see the 66ers in their inaugural game, and they were treated to quite a show, as the hosts outlasted the Steam 138-128 at Pontiac High School.
The Steam, under new coach Milton Stith, led 33-32 after the first quarter. But Pontiac, under former Steam coach Durrell Robinson, took the lead into halftime 61-51 after holding Gateway to just 18 points in the second frame.
Both teams burned up the nets in the third quarter, as the Steam outscored the 66ers 43-40 in the third to narrow the gap to 101-94 heading into the fourth.
Pontiac appeared to be pulling away in the final stanza, opening up a 14-point lead, but Gateway closed to within three at 129-126 with less than two minutes to play.
The Steam would get no closer, however, and the 66ers would pull away to the final margin in the final minute.
Jake Anderson led Pontiac (1-0) with 34 points. Austin Hill added 29, and Garrett Jefferson, Alonzo Houston and Marcus Hammonds all scored in double figures. Hill and Jefferson led the 66ers with nine rebounds apiece
Lonnel Johnson scored 27 for Gateway (0-1), including twelve from three-point range. The Steam drained 14 three-pointers overall. Bryant Allen had 23 and Lanard Bryant scored 20, while Connell Crossland scored 17 points and pulled down 15 rebounds.