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Teams eye playoff positions as second half begins

By Craig Fata, 02/26/16, 9:15AM CST


All seeds still up for grabs, all teams alive


February 26, 2016

After a winter storm inserted a small hiccup in the 2016 Midwest Professional Basketball Association schedule Wednesday, the league is back in action with a full slate of games this weekend.

The 6-1 Windy City Groove and 3-5 Lima Express tip things off Saturday in Lima.  The Groove have been idle since Valentine’s Day, when they got back in the win column following their first loss of the season.  Dion Cooksey leads the Groove at 23.0 points and 4.4 assists per game, while Isiah Martin averages 14.4 points and 8.9 rebounds a contest.  Nine total Groove players average scoring in double figures, including newcomer Ray Miller, who scored 13 and grabbed seven rebounds in his debut on February 14.

Lima’s season has been one of streaks—they lost their first two, won three straight, and have now lost three in a row.  Cordaryl Ballard leads the Express at 26.3 points and 4.7 assists per game, while Kyle Meyer averages 22.2 points.  Guard Johnny Elliott leads the team in rebounding at 7.8 per game.

Three games dot the docket Sunday.  The first is in St. Louis, where the RiverSharks look to rebound after dropping a pair of games last weekend.  They host the Pontiac 66ers in the first game of a double-header at Emerson Performance Center at Harris-Stowe State University.  2015 MPBA Most Valuable Player Justin Bocot leads St. Louis (3-4) at 26.1 points and 3.4 assists per game.  Reigning MPBA Player of the Week Bruce Massey has upped his scoring average to 20.3 while leading the team in rebounding at 7.4 per game.

The red-hot Alfonzo Houston leads Pontiac (6-3) with 26.1 points per game.  Newcomer Khion Sankey is the team’s top rebounder at 8.5 per game, while Marcus Hammonds pulls down 7.7 per contest.  The 66ers remain solid in second place despite losing three players last week to overseas contracts.

Sunday’s second game features a rematch of Saturday’s Groove/Express game in Lima.  Then, the final game of the weekend will have the Gateway Steam (3-4) host the Champaign Swarm (2-7).  The Swarm won their second game of the season last weekend in new coach Daniel Ruffin’s debut.  Michael Rogers is the Swarm’s leading scorer at 24.1 points per game, while Aaron Weaver, since his return to the team earlier this month, is averaging 23.7.  Robert Broughton, who also rejoined the team a couple weeks ago, is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game, while the league’s leading three-point shooter, Oliver McGlade, leads the team with 3.9 assists per contest.

Gateway (3-4), which relies on the most aggressive defense in the league, split a pair of games last weekend, and looks to again reach the .500 mark.  Lonnel Johnson leads the Steam with 16.1 points per game, on the strength of nearly 52% shooting (15 of 29) from three-point range.  The athletic Connell Crossland chips in 15.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

All league games can be seen live and free of charge on the MPBA’s high-definition web channel,