A Look Back: 2012-13 BayHawks Season

As the BayHawks tipped off the 2012-13 season in Fort Wayne on a chilly Friday night, the team started a four month journey that had itís share of ups and downs. In customary NBA Development League fashion, the team that took the floor against the Mad Ants on November 23rd would undergo major re-construction. Only three of the ten players on the opening night roster would remain with the team for the duration of the season. Through all the change, Erie came up one tie-breaker shy of making itís third consecutive playoff appearance but provided a multitude of highlights along the way.

Gene Cross, the third head coach in team history, made his first roster move of the year on November 29 as the team welcomed back the teamís second all-time leading scorer, Erik Daniels. In a three previous seasons with Erie, Daniels accumulated 1,228 points, which left him just 192 points behind Ivan Harris for the team record. Daniels also returned with the second highest career rebound total and third highest assist record.

Erie opened their fifth season at home on December 1st in grand style as they downed division foe Canton 82-80 behind rookie Henry Simsí 19 point scoring effort. The big man from Georgetown came to Erie by way of the affiliate rule after spending time on the New York Knicksí training camp roster. Sims quickly realized he had the talent to dominate the D-League. With a solid post game and a nice mid-range jumper, the former Hoya averaged 16.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for Erie during his rookie campaign.

After dropping three consecutive outings in early December, the BayHawks went on a tear, winning a season-high five games in a row from December 14-28. During the streak, Erie received the highest profiled assignment player in the leagueís history on December 18 as the New York Knicks assigned NBA All-Star Amaríe Stoudemire to the BayHawks. The Knicks also sent Chris Copeland and James White on a practice-only assignment with Stoudemire at the Knicksí training facility.

The BayHawks received another boost in the front court as former Gannon University standout and Erie fan favorite Kyle Goldcamp re-joined the squad on December 19. Goldcamp returned to Erie as the teamís all-time leader in games played (116) and rebounds (639).

Erieís winning streak came to an end on December 29 with a loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Before the team took the floor in Maine for their next game, Cross and general manager Allan Houston shook up the roster again, sending forward Mychel Thompson and guard Donald Sloan to Sioux Falls as part of a three-team deal. In return, Erie received forward Mike Singletary from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and a 2013 second round draft selection from the Sioux Falls Skyforce. On January 15, Erie re-acquired Cory Higgins following his release from the Charlotte Bobcats. The trio of Higgins, Sims and D.J. Kennedy had the potential to be one of the most dynamic scoring combinations in the entire league. The BayHawks made their first ever appearance in Santa Cruz the following game and fell in heart breaking fashion, 96-95. They concluded their west coast road trip with a three-point victory against the Los Angeles D-Fenders to split the four game trek with two wins and two losses and bringing their season record to 12-9.

The BayHawks roster remained unchanged from mid-January through early March. During that time, the BayHawks record lingered near .500 as the team seemed to trade wins and losses on a nightly basis. While in Frisco, Texas, the BayHawks mounted one of their largest comeback victories of the season as they eliminated an 18 point deficit and overtook the Legends 93-92 with a furious fourth quarter comeback led by Demonte Harper.

Sims and Kennedy participated in the 2013 NBA Development League All-Star game in Houston, Texas on February 16. The BayHawks started the second half of the season with three wins in four games as they continued to have Cantonís number, taking two games from the Charge. On the other hand, Erieís struggles with Fort Wayne continued as the BayHawks could not seem to establish any consistency against the Mad Ants.

When the BayHawks traveled to Canton on February 20, Daniels was tied for the teamís all-time lead in scoring. In the second quarter, he toed the line and connected on a free throw to boost himself above Ivan Harris with his 1,491st point in an Erie uniform.

Erie started the month of March in prime position to create their own playoff destiny and chase an Eastern Division title. After dropping a weekend series in Maine, the BayHawks converted a major roster overhaul. On March 3rd, Sims was called up by the NBAís New Orleans Hornets, the 17th occurrence in team history. Two days later, Erie and Rio Grande Valley completed another blockbuster trade as they shipped Singletary back to the Vipers along with Kennedy. In return, the BayHawks acquired former NBA guards Mustafa Shakur and Terrel Harris along with rookie wing Wesley Witherspoon. Unfortunately for Erie, Harris would never don a BayHawks game jersey as he was signed by the Hornets three days later. Chace Stanback was added to the roster and Terrence Jennings was acquired from the Iowa Energy for a third round draft selection just minutes before the trade deadline on March 8.

The new-look BayHawks took the floor on March 8th to welcome the Springfield Armor to town. Shakur played well in his Erie debut, scoring 16 points and five assists. In what would become a reoccurring theme, Higgins led the BayHawks to victory with 22 points. The following night, in perhaps their best win of the season, Erie dominated first place Bakersfield the entire game. Shakur put on a show, scoring 29 points with nine assists and five rebounds. Higgins added 26 points and eight rebounds. The BayHawks seemed to be hitting their stride at the right time and Sims returned to the team in time for a Tuesday night match-up against the Texas Legends.

Erieís hopes were quickly dashed as the BayHawks lost to the Legends and went on to lose four of their next five games, putting their playoff aspirations on life support. The BayHawks needed to win the majority of their four remaining contests and get help from other teams in the league to clinch a playoff berth. Erie handled their business in two games against the Armor and turned their attention to the Maine Red Claws who were looking to book their trip to the playoffs for the first time in team history. They would have to do it without Sims as he left the team to explore other options overseas.

With two games left in the regular season, the BayHawks now controlled their own destiny. Winning both games would put them above Maine for the final playoff spot. The BayHawks took the floor in front of nearly 4,500 fans on Friday, April 5th. In a back-and-forth contest, Erie was never able to get over the proverbial hump and fell 110-99. The loss officially eliminated the BayHawks from playoff contention. With only one game remaining, Erie still had a chance to make an impact on the playoffs. With a win over Maine and a Sioux Falls win in Iowa, the Skyforce would surpass the Red Claws for the final playoff berth.

The BayHawks looked out of sync for the entire first half of the game against Maine. In the third quarter, Maine extended their lead to a game-high 16 points but Erie quickly ratcheted up the defensive intensity and Higgins took over. With 1:17 reamining, Higgins drove the lane and dished the ball to Jennings, who was playing in his first game of the season for Erie. As the shot clock expired, Jennings buried a three-pointer to give Erie their first lead since the opening minute. The arena erupted and Erie was able to sink their free throws down the stretch to close out the season with a 108-105 victory. Jennings finished with 11 points for Erie and Higgins contributed a 41 point effort, the second highest single game output in BayHawks history behind Ivan Johnsonís 46 point game against Maine on January 14, 2011.

Sioux Falls would go on to lose to Iowa and the Red Claws slipped into the final playoff position. The BayHawks finished with a 26-24 record, the same as Maine but did not qualify for the playoffs because they lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Red Claws, five games to four.

Although the BayHawks didnít finish as well as they had hoped, accumulating a 6-9 record in the seasonís final month, a leader emerged for Erie. Following the Kennedy trade, Higgins averaged 25.3 points per game for the BayHawks, including finishing the season with a streak of 12 games with at least 20 points. The fifth season of BayHawks basketball saw many individual records fall. Beyond Danielsí scoring record, Goldcamp extended his all-time team highs in games played (159), rebounds (917) and surpassed Jackie Manuel in blocks (108). Kennedy became the third highest scorer in team history (1,350), third best rebounder (614), second best passer (385) and all-time steals leader (130). Daniels finished the season second in all-time rebounds (754) as well as third in assists (372), blocks (76) and steals (110).

As the page turns to the 2013-14 season, Coach Cross has a lot to be excited about. The BayHawks have a solid young core and multiple selections in the first couple rounds of the draft. While the make-up of the team wonít be decided for a while, the BayHawks will look to continue to improve and make a run at the 2014 playoffs.