Local minor league basketball team the Quad City Flames were crowned the 2019 Minor League Basketball Association series champions on Sunday, July 28, following a 114-95 win against the Huntsville Force.
The MLBA playoffs took place over two days in San Antonio, Texas, where the Alamo City Aztecs hosted the playoff tournament. The Flames were one of four teams that earned a spot through their respective conference championship title.
This is the Flames’ first MLBA championship title since the team was founded by owner-coach Doc Stancil three years ago. The adult league team practices and plays games at the Nisqually Youth and Community Center.
Stancil said he was thrilled that his team could take home the championship. He said the process for picking the team to fly out to San Antonio was a challenge.
“We have a lot of guys, so I had a choice of players to bring. And we actually brought the right combination together,” he said.
The Flames started the tournament off against the home team Alamo Aztecs. Stancil said they weren’t sure what to expect going into their first game against the San Antonio-based team.
“We didn’t worry about what they had, we worried about what we could do,” he said.
Both his bench and starters seemed focused on winning that first game and kept their eyes on the prize. Stancil said guards Jamaal Miller, Desjuan Newton and Kyle Thurston kept the pressure on the opposition.
Going into the second quarter, the Flames took control and were able to keep a steady lead. They maintained control up until the end of the third when the Aztecs took a 98-93 lead.
It came down to the final minute, but Quad City were able to clinch the win, 119-116, to move on to their second game against Huntsville.
Expectations going into their game against the Force were high, Stancil said. But they kept their cool and were able to keep a lengthy lead on their opponents.
“They boasted they were undefeated, and from the tip, we jumped on them and pulled away. I think our biggest lead on that game was 25,” Stancil said.
With steady control on the court, and a solid contribution by 6-foot-7 center Patrick Lewis, the Flames were able to secure their win against the Force and take home the crystal globe trophy.
Stancil said the title is huge for their ever-expanding program. The team is always seeing a heavy rotation of talent, in and out, he said, and the program can springboard players to bigger opportunities.
“We try to get these guys out there and give (them) the opportunity to play overseas,” Stancil said.
Team captain Will Causey will also be retiring from the team soon, Stancil said.
The Flames next season will start in October. On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Nisqually-based team will host the Huntsville Force. Tickets are available on their website and their 2020 winter schedule will be published on their website in a few weeks.