Well, last night the Patroons were led by a veteran who only made the starting lineup because Jamario Moon had swelling in his elbow and was scratched from the lineup for the night.
And by the end of the night, that player set team, league and franchise records in scoring that I thought would never be surpassed.
Or that I would get to call those moments over the PA system.
Let me explain.
Lloyd Johnson – also known as “Pooh” – has starred for Albany-based pro and semipro basketball teams for years. He was on the 2010 Albany Legends team that won the IBA championship. He also scored for several seasons for the Schenectady Legends spinoff team.
Today, he’s a veteran with the Albany Patroons and scores points as their sixth man, first off the bench. Last night, head coach Derrick Rowland put Lloyd Johnson in the starting lineup.
And boy did he make the most of it.
By halftime, Pooh had drained more than a few three-pointers, and Albany started off with an 8-0 run over the KC Tornados. The score kept going up and up and up…
By halftime, the Patroons were up 70-58, and Pooh had 25 of those points. You heard me. 25 points at the half.
It’s calculation time. And during halftime, I’m scribbling out notes.
Earlier this season, Albany’s Edwin Ubiles had 45 points in a Patroons road win.
The NAPB record is 48 points, set by some team, I don’t know which one. No matter, I do remember it was 48 points.
And the all-time record for anyone in a Patroons uniform was 51 points, set by T.J. Thompson in a Patroons road victory in 2005, way back in the Patroons’ Continental Basketball Association days.
And Lloyd Johnson is draining three-pointers like he’s shooting marbles into the lake.
I’m keeping tabs. During a break in play, I motion to head coach Derrick Rowland. Six to break the big record.
He nods. He knows. He’s a damn smart coach. The game’s already way out of hand, Albany could leave the court for the entire fourth quarter and Kansas City still wouldn’t catch up.
So much of me was tempted to announce to the crowd how close Pooh was to the final score. No. Don’t do it. That would be like a baseball announcer declaring a pitcher was three innings away from a no-hitter. Do that and the next pitch the guy throws will land over the wall in center field, and the announcer will look like a jackass for the rest of the night. Chuck ain’t going hee haw tonight, let me tell you.
Still, I kept focusing on the situation. A layup. Four away. He’s tied the NAPB record.
Another three pointer. He’s now tied with T.J. for the all-time Patroons record.
And then … a shot in the lane. 53 points, with a minute left in the game.
Coach Rowland calls time out.
And I make the announcement.
Pooh gets hugged and congratulated and everything. Standing ovation from the crowd. I run down the accolades. He’s passed Edwin Ubiles for the single-game mark this season. He passed whoever it was in the NAPB for most points in a game. He’s the first man to surpass 50 points in an NAPB game. And just for the maraschino cherry on the chocolate sundae … he eclipsed T.J. Thompson for the all-time team record for most points in a game. Lloyd “Pooh” Johnson with 53 points.
Nobody in a Patroons uniform has EVER scored 53 points in an Albany Patroons game. Not Derrick Rowland, not Vince Askew, not Mario Elie, not Jamario Moon, not anybody.
Until last night.
And after the game, I did what has now become a basketball tradition when a player breaks a scoring record. I scribbled “53” on a sheet of paper and handed it to Pooh, and took his picture.
Yep, that’s Pooh with the 53 sign, with the 139-115 Patroons scoreboard in the distance.
How swank is that? Pretty freakin’ swank, if you ask me.
53 points is one thing, for sure – but the win also pushed Albany to within a half game of the Yakima Sun Kings for the NAPB regular season title, and with a playoff berth on the line, and home court advantage throughout the NAPB season on the line … wins like these are more important than ever.
Plus, due to some last-minute schedule adjustments, Albany now gets three more home dates – April 25, 26 and 27 – against the Ohio Bootleggers to round out the 2018 season.
Gold and kelly green, baby. Albany Patroons are stronger than ever.
Albany’s next home game is tonight against the same KC Tornados. Game starts at 7:05 pm, and good seats are still available.