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MPBA weekend preview

By Craig Fata, 02/05/16, 9:30AM CST


Three games Saturday on super day of action


February 5, 2016

The Midwest Professional Basketball Association swings back into action this weekend with a matinee tripleheader on Saturday.

The early game features the Lima Express traveling to Chicago to take on the Blues, in the first of two afternoon games at the Kroc Center.  After winning three straight, the Express dropped a game in which they led much of the time at home last Sunday to Pontiac.

Cordaryl Ballard is an early MVP candidate for the Express (3-3), leading the team with 26.6 points and 5.4 assists per game.  Kyle Meyer also averages more than 20 points per game, and guard Johnny Elliott leads the team in rebounding at 8.6 boards per contest. 

With three wins in their last four games, the Blues have reached the .500 mark for the first time in franchise history (3-3).  Chicago won a pair of games last weekend over the Gateway Steam and Pontiac 66ers, the latter on the road.  Ryan Jackson, the reigning league Player of the Week, has taken over the scoring lead on the Blues, averaging 19.0 points per game.  Six other Blues average in double figures scoring.  Al Rapier is the leading rebounder at 9.3 per game.

The St. Louis RiverSharks (2-1) return to the floor in the second game of the afternoon, taking on the Swarm at Parkland College in Champaign.  2015 league MVP Justin Bocot leads St. Louis in scoring at 26.3 points per game, while Gavin Schumann has upped his average to 18.3 a contest.  Bruce Massey is the team’s top rebounder at 7.3 per game.

Champaign (1-5) will try to continue its mastery over the RiverSharks, having beat them in the MPBA finals last April, and again in their first meeting this season on January 24. 

MVP candidate Michael Rogers leads the Swarm at 27.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.  Rogers and Oliver McGlade each sank six three-pointers last week in a loss to the Windy City Groove.  The Swarm will be bolstered by the return of 2015 MPBA Sixth Man of the Year Aaron Weaver, who averaged 20.7 points per game for the Swarm last season.

The final matchup of the day will see the Windy City Groove looking to remain unbeaten (5-0) against the winless Gateway Steam (0-3). 

Dion Cooksey, another early MVP candidate, leads the Groove at 26.8 points and 4.8 assists per game.  He is one of eight Groove players averaging in double figures in scoring.  Isiah Martin averages nearly a double-double, with 16.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per contest. 

Lonnel Johnson is the top scorer for Gateway at 23.3 points per game, including a .556 shooting percentage from three-point range.  Connell Crossland is the team’s top rebounder at 7.7 boards per contest.

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