ERIE, Penn. — The Erie Pepperoni Balls, otherwise known as the Erie BayHawks, NBA G League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club (25-19) rolled past the Maine Red Claws (17-28), 114-108, on Friday night inside Erie Insurance Arena.
The Pepperoni Balls built a 10-point lead off of a Jordan Mathews layup with 3:50 left in the opening quarter. The Red Claws responded by going on an 8-0 run, narrowing their deficit, 23-21. At the end of the first quarter, Erie held a 28-23 lead. Daniel Dixon knocked down a pair of free throws with 3:47 left in the opening half for Maine, to tie the Pepperoni Balls, 41-41. Heading into the intermission of tonight’s tilt, Erie had a 55-48 lead.
The Pepperoni Balls began the second half with an extra pep in their step, extending their lead to 16 points, 80-64, off of a John Gillon jump shot with 4:54 left on the clock in the third quarter. Erie poured in 37 points in the third. The 37 points scored ties a season-high for most points scored in a third quarter (1/20/18 at DEL). After three quarters of action, the Pepperoni Balls held a 92-77 advantage. Erie hit the century mark at the 6:19 mark of the fourth quarter, 101-85, off of a Jordan Mathews layup, with a sweet dish from Tyler Cavanaugh. Maine would cut its deficit to single digits, 106-97, with 3:14 left in regulation. The Red Claws would get within four points of Erie, 112-108, with 10.3 seconds to play. The Pepperoni Balls would hang on and eventually roll away from tonight’s match with a 114-108 win.
Jeremy Evans paced the Pepperoni Balls, notching a double-double with 17 points on 7-11 (.636) shooting from the floor, a team-high 15 rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 33.4 minutes of action. Raphiael Putney poured in a game-high 27 points on 9-18 (.500) shooting from the field, nine rebounds, two steals and a game-high five blocks in 34.2 minutes. Tonight’s game marked the 12th time this season that Putney has recorded at least four blocks. John Gillon registered 23 points on 4-8 (.500) shooting from the floor, including a 2-2 (1.000) clip from beyond the arc, a 13-14 (.929) mark from the charity stripe and a game-high six assists in 36.1 minutes of action.
Devin Williams pulled down a game-best 21 rebounds (eight offensive) for the Red Claws, to go along with a team-high 20 points, two assists and one steal in 37.1 minutes. Drew Barham contributed 16 points on 6-11 (.545) shooting from the floor, including a 3-5 (.600) clip from deep and six rebounds in 21.2 minutes as a reserve. L.J. Peak dished out a team-high tying five assists and swiped a game-high four steals, to go along with 12 points on 5-8 (.625) shooting and one block in 26.3 minutes.
The name change for Erie was part of “What Could’ve Been Night,” a promotion in which Erie imagined what the team could have been named if the chosen identity was something truly unique to the Erie region. All Pepperoni Ball uniforms were auctioned off and all pepperoni balls were sold for $1.00. Proceeds from both the auction and pepperoni ball sales benefited the United Way of Erie County’s Imagination Library.