The Los Angeles Lightning jumped out to a 22-7 lead Tuesday night and never looked back on the way to claiming their first IBL championship at Cal Lutheran. Lamond Murray scored 22 points and Fred Vinson notched 14 of his 20 in the second half of a 111 to 94 victory over the Oregon Waves. The Lightning (18-5) won the series 2-1 by outshooting Oregon 50 to 40 percent and outrebounding them 59-45.
"It feels good to win the title," said Murray, a 12-year National Basketball Assosciation veteran. "They got us on Sunday on the back-to-back. We got a day of rest, you know we're old heads, so a good day of rest is important. "We never lost our poise, even when we got down a couple of points. We all knew it's a long game. We have been there and we know we'll outsmart the younger players down the stretch."
Trayvon Lathan, a 6-7 guard who made his first start of the finals on Tuesday, collected 18 points and eight rebounds while Toby Bailey had 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on a night when all five Los Angeles starters reached double-figure scoring. Center Adam Parada added fifteen points and nine boards for the Lightning.
Point guard Darrick Martin, one of six former NBA players on the Lightning roster, contributed 10 points, six rebounds and eight assists. David Lucas paced the Waves with 30 points and nine rebounds. Robert Day, who scored a game high 32 points on 8-14 long-range shooting in Oregon's 108-107 Game 2 win, managed just four points and went 0-11 on 3-pointers. Murray scored eight points in the first 8 minutes as L.A. built a 22-7 lead.
The Lightning led 54-40 at halftime and 82-64 after three quarters. "The guys came out tonight and took care of business," said coach Ron Quarterman of Los Angeles. "They had a different focus before the game started. I knew if we played the way I know we can play, we would win the game. "This is a great start. Not bad for a second year franchise, not bad at all."
The Lightning used a 13-4 run late in the 2nd quarter and stretched the lead to 51-37 on a trey by Vinson. "This was the final game, we wanted to win it so bad," said Vinson, who shot 5-13 on 3-pointers. "We made some adjustments on defense and everybody came with a focus. We played a very smart game." The Waves cut a 23 point deficit to 13 in the final quarter when J.S. Nash (15 points) scored five straight.
The Lightning regained control, however, with an 11-2 run, capped by a three from Vinson that made it 100-78 with 6:15 to play. Lathan made the play of the game by opening the 4th quarter with a coast-to-coast slam that made it 84-64. Tony Strickland, a California State Senator from Thousand Oaks who played all season with the Lightning, capped the win with a layup in the final seconds.
"I feel great," said Mark Harwell, the Lightning owner and General Manager. "This is 2 years in the making. We have been through a lot of struggles but the good outweighs the bad - it always does. "The guys really hadn't put 4 good quarters together this year. Tonight, we really put it on them and our talent showed." What will the title mean for the future of the Lightning? "This means a lot for the community and building towards the future," Harwell concluded.