SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Mar. 24 – The Sioux Falls Skyforce defeated the Maine Red Claws 111-108 on Wednesday night at the Sioux Falls Arena to clinch a spot in the 2010 NBA Development League Playoffs. It marks the 14th postseason berth in 21 seasons of professional basketball in the Sioux Empire.
Sioux Falls recorded a season-high 40 first-quarter points on their way to a 67-63 halftime lead. Greg Stiemsma got off to a quick start for the Skyforce with 10 points on 5-of-5 field goals in the opening quarter. Morris Almond also started the game strong with a 15-point first quarter.
Sioux Falls never trailed in the third quarter and led by as many as nine points before settling for an 89-81 lead at the end of three. Raymond Sykes made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to push the lead to 10 points (96-86) with under eight minutes to go but Maine went on a 10-1 spurt over the next two minutes to cut the deficit to 97-96. Maine had a chance to tie the game at 106, but Almond missed a driving lay-up and Leemire Goldwire hit a long two-pointer with two seconds on the shot clock to make it a two-possession game. Maurice Ager answered with a tough driving lay-up but Sioux Falls made 3-of-4 free throws to ice the game and snap a modest two-game losing streak.
Alexander Johnson paced the Skyforce with 27 points and seven rebounds. Goldwire added 22 points of the bench and David Bailey posted his sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 assists.
Almond tallied a game-high 30 points while Russell Robinson added 20 points. Ager had a solid all-around game with 14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Sioux Falls hosts the Springfield Armor on Friday at 7 p.m. CT. Maine travels to the Biggest Little City in the World to take on the Reno Bighorns on Friday at 10 p.m. ET.