The Central Division Champion Central Illinois Drive, presented by Sonic, took a 1-0 lead in the best of three series against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Steamers Thursday night. The Drive beat the Steamers at Scranton Wilkes-Barre by a score of 132-103 and won their first ever playoff game. Central Illinois can advance to the PBL Championship Series with a win at home on Saturday night. Anthony Slack led the team with 25 points and got a double-double with 11 rebounds. Todd Peterson was not far behind with 24 points with 6 three-point baskets and 6 rebounds. Daniel Ruffin had 15 points while Jemal Farmer and Mike Malat both had 12. The team shot 49% overall and made 17 of 37 three-point shots. They were 17 for 30 at the free throw line.
Both teams showed no problems on offense at the start of the game. The teams traded the lead early. Jemal Farmer had the first points in Drive playoff history with a layup. Todd Peterson made the first three-point basket. With 6:03 to play in the quarter the game was tied at 13, but the Drive began to pull away at that point. They eventually opened up a 17 point lead and finished the quarter up 36-20 as Anthony Slack made a basket at the buzzer.
The Drive opened up the lead in the 2nd and led by 23 points near the end of the half. Things got a little messy though as Jemal Farmer and the Steamers’ Nemanja Jokic got tangled up in a fight for the ball. Jokic kicked at farmer and both teams came to the aid of their teammates. The Steamers’ bench emptied but nothing happened. Both team were given one technical foul free throw and both were made. Todd Peterson shot for the Drive and he was given a second shot on the play, which he also made. At the end of the half the Drive led 63-47 thanks to a 38-24 3rd quarter. Todd Peterson and Anthony Slack each had 16 points and 6 rebounds through the half.
The Steamers made a push to start the 3rd quarter but the Drive quickly turned the tables and began to stretch their lead again. Central Illinois opened the lead to 30 points. Todd Peterson continued his good game. He had all 6 three-pointers before the end of the 3rd quarter. The Drive finished the quarter up 101-71 after a 38-24 quarter.
Central Illinois took off at the start of the 4th quarter with a 16-7 run to make it 117-78 and a 39 point lead. It was the largest lead of the night. Anthony Slack and Jemal Farmer had back to back dunks to put the exclamation point on the game. From there the Drive would cruise to a win and a 1-0 series lead.
article courtesy Aaron Strauss, Central Illinois Drive