News and notes from around the ABA -- Playoff Tourneys in full swing across the country

By Kirk Copeland
(318) 525-8853 cell

Monday, March 16th

(Shreveport, LA.) – It was a busy and sometimes confusing weekend across the nation as the American Basketball Association playoffs tipped off, sending 12 teams one step closer to joining the defending champion Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks and last year’s runners-up, the Jacksonville Giants, in the 2015 Championship Finals.

The top-ranked Mavericks, who finished 28-0 for their second straight undefeated regular season, have already clinched the top seed in the Finals, and the second-ranked Giants (27-4) have also qualified. The Mavs, winners of 88 consecutive games, will host the Finals April 7-13 at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum.

After a frantic end to the regular season two weeks ago that saw a game between Miami and Jacksonville called off in the fourth quarter due to several brawls, the league revised the playoff structure and held seven tournaments that got the field down to 12 teams fighting for the final two remaining Finals slots.

In the Mid-Atlantic Divisional in Baltimore, the #18-ranked North Carolina Coyotes surprised the #13-ranked Richmond Elite 129-107 in the semifinals Saturday, but fell to the #5-ranked Baltimore Hawks 112-110 in the tourney final Sunday. Baltimore (15-4) travels to Providence, Rhode Island, this weekend, March 21-22, for a league quarterfinal tournament.

In perhaps the biggest upset so far, the #16-ranked San Francisco Rumble swept through the West Regional and defeated the #9-ranked Arizona Scorpions 107-101 in the tournament final in Glendale, Arizona. The loss was only the third loss all season by the Scorpions (16-3). San Francisco gets a bye this weekend before a play-in game the following weekend.

The South West Divisional in Laredo, Texas, saw the host and #10-ranked Am-Ex Swarm top the Austin Boom 127-97 in the final. The Swarm receive a bye this weekend before a play-in game the following weekend (March 28-29).

The South Coast Fire got a break in the South East Divisional, advancing to the next round after the #7-ranked Atlanta Wildcats, who had won the final 123-116, were found to have used two ineligible players. South Coast will play in the South Florida Regional this weekend.

The North East Divisional in Pittsburgh provided some of the best drama of the weekend. The #12-ranked Steel City Yellow Jackets and the #27-ranked Philly Spirit notched close wins Saturday night (Steel City 142, Staten Island Vipers 135; Philly 98, Jersey Express 93). The Spirit then edged host Yellow Jackets 106-105 in the final Sunday. Philly will play in the league quarterfinal tournament in Providence this weekend.

The #14-ranked West Michigan Lake Hawks breezed through the North Central Divisional, beating the Oakland County Cowboys 154-78 Saturday and the Motor City Firebirds 98-84 in the final Sunday. West Michigan will play the #6-ranked Chicago Steam this weekend, with the winner of that contest facing Memphis the following weekend.

Both the #28-ranked Memphis Lions and #24-ranked Birmingham Blitz advanced from the Gulf Coast Divisional after venue issues with the host Jackson Showboats forced cancellation of Sunday’s final. Birmingham will play in the South Florida Regional this weekend, while Memphis receives a bye and will play the winner of the West Michigan/Chicago contest March 28 or 29.

Teams receiving byes this past weekend

Providence Sky Chiefs, Miami Midnites, South Florida Gold.

North East Regional – Providence, RI

Saturday, March 21: Philly Spirit vs Baltimore Hawks
Sunday, March 22: Saturday’s winner vs Providence Sky Chiefs

South Florida Regional – Miami, FL

Saturday: Birmingham Blitz vs South Florida Gold, South Coast vs Miami
Sunday: Saturday’s winners

North Central Regional – Chicago, IL

Date TBD: West Michigan Lake Hawks vs Chicago

Byes this week

*Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks, *Jacksonville Giants, Am-Ex Swarm, San Francisco Rumble, Memphis Lions
*Shreveport-Bossier and Jacksonville have byes until the ABA Championship Finals April 7-13.

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