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Skyforce Wins Third Straight Against Wizards

Skyforce 97, Wizards 95 (F)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Feb. 19 – The Sioux Falls Skyforce won their third straight game against the Dakota Wizards Tuesday night, escaping a string of last chance shots from Dakota to win 97-95 at the Sioux Falls Arena. Sioux Falls (18-16) has now pulled within one game of Dakota (18-14) for the Central Division lead, and will play the Wizards two more times in their next three games.

The Skyforce was led by Elton Nesbitt with 21 points, 18 of those while carrying the Skyforce in the first half of play. Chris Alexander had 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Sioux Falls while Kasib Powell added 17 points and eight assists.

“This was good therapy for me,” said Skyforce head coach Nate Tibbetts, who was in his first game back with his team since the death of his father on Sunday. “I knew it was going to be tough, but this is one I’ll always remember.”

The Wizards joined the home crowd before the game in honoring Tibbetts’ father with applause and handshakes. The emotion might have led to the slow start for Sioux Falls, however, as Dakota began the game by jumping out to a 14-4 lead four minutes into the first quarter. Sioux Falls, however, responded after a timeout and took the lead three minutes later, 20-19. Close play continued throughout the game as it came down to desperation shots in the final seconds for Dakota.

With Sioux Falls leading 96-95, Tony Gipson stole the inbounds pass for Dakota and quickly took a timeout. The ensuing play was set up for Dontell Jefferson, who missed a 19-foot jump shot. Dakota had one more chance as Kevin Lyde grabbed the offensive rebound but missed a short putback.

“Our fans wanted it and our players wanted it,” said Tibbetts. “Looking at the stats I don’t know how we won, but we’ll take it.”

Dakota was led by Blake Ahearn with 23 points, while Will Frisby added 19 points and 14 boards off the bench.

Sioux Falls’ next game will be at Iowa on Sunday at 4 p.m. Dakota will play at Iowa on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.