The 78s hosted the Elite Kings at the Wellness Center for the very first time on Saturday night, and they let them know that they were not welcome. Worcester came out on top 128-118, behind double-double performances from Tony Gallo (22 points, 12 assists), Maurice Horton (16 points, 11 rebounds), and Jose Cruz Jr. (10 points, 10 rebounds).
Kamahl Walker got things started for Worcester in the first quarter as he scored the team’s first five points of the game. The Kings briefly tied the score at 5 following a three-point basket from Irving Moses, but Jose Cruz Jr. and Maurice Horton began their big nights with a layup and a three-pointer respectively, to make it 10-7.
Walker then scored another basket following a nice pass from Tony Gallo to make it 12-7 Worcester. Later in the quarter, Lee Vazquez stole the ball from the Kings’ Daniel Thomas, and passed it up the court to Horton.
Horton passed it back to Vazquez and Vazquez found Gallo open behind the arc. Gallo then hit a deep three-point basket to continue the offensive attack.
With less than three minutes remaining, the 78s confused the Kings with a passing sequence, leaving Cruz wide open underneath the basket. Dmitri Floras capitalized and fired the ball to Cruz who dunked it emphatically.
This miscue by the Kings would lead to them committing more mistakes in the second quarter. After both teams exchanged baskets in the opening minutes, Horton missed a shot, but the Kings struggled to get the rebound. Horton rebounded and passed the ball to Sam Longwell, who hit a three-pointer to make it 34-25 Worcester.
Worcester was strong on defense as well this quarter, as the Kings couldn’t find any opening to take a good shot.
The Kings were able to make a three-point basket three minutes into the quarter, but they quickly fell asleep on defense. After the 78s took the ball out, Gallo found Longwell already well up the court and by the basket.
Gallo fired the ball to Longwell and Longwell made the easy layup.
A minute later, Horton used his strength to fight his way through the Kings’ defense, as he rebounded his own shot three times, before making a layup to add on to his points for the night.
The Kings continued to make sloppy plays in the quarter, leaving the right side of the court wide open for Vazquez as he was dribbling during a Worcester possession. Vazquez easily made the layup.
Immediately after that, Kaysean Jackson lost control of the ball while dribbling back down for the Kings, leading the 78s to take it. Walker scored and Worcester led at halftime, 60-45.
‘Elite,’ continued to be the improper word used for the Kings on this night as they made more bad plays in the third quarter. Chris Shon’s intended pass to Daniel Thomas was taken by Avery King, who proceeded to dribble down the court and make a layup.
Not long after that, Anthony Bennet dribbled through the 2-on-1 assault of King and Walker. Bennet passed the ball to Andre Deflorimonte, who tried to pass it back from his right side. However, it was taken away by Walker who passed it to Gallo. Gallo found King who made a three-pointer to make it 67-48.
King kept it up a few minutes later when Walker passed the ball to him on the right side of the court. King drove into the paint dribbling with his left hand and banked the shot over the Kings’ Niko Spalding to add on. King would go on to have 16 points on the night for the 78s.
The third quarter ended with Worcester having a commanding 109-77 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Spalding sparked some life for the Kings, as he quickly scored six points within the first few minutes.
With eight minutes remaining, Thomas scored a field goal over the head of Horton, to add on for the Kings.
On the next Worcester drive, Gallo missed a shot and Horton tried to get the rebound. His fingertips forced the ball towards the direction of Longwell, but he couldn’t reach. Moses retrieved the ball and dribbled up the court, spun around Vazquez, and made the basket, to continue to make things a little more interesting for the 78s.
After Vazquez made a basket for Worcester, Moses shined again in the quarter by hitting a three-pointer from behind the right corner of the arc.
The Kings slowly scratched and clawed themselves back into a respectable difference in points with the 78s but ultimately, the deficit was too large for them.
Worcester took the contest, 128-118, to improve to 3-1 all-time against the Kings. Eight 78s players scored ten or more points led by Gallo’s 22 followed closely by Longwell, who had 20.
With the win, Worcester now moves to 7-4 on the season. Their next game will be against the Outtatowners, who come to the Wellness Center on Saturday, January 19.
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