2019 FBA Season/18.12.15/DAK@PLY/Capsule

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Believe It! Taproots Topple Bikers in Season of "Wild Growth"

By Cedric O'Toole, Special to the Boston Howler

At the end of the Taproots' first homestand in November, the team's Twitter account asked a simple question, "Do you believe in the #WildGrowth?"

Indeed, the promise of "Wild Growth" has been a common refrain from the team, starting in the offseason with ownership of the franchise changing hands from Chris Farrow to Chinese media company OSesame Group. Since then, the organization has undergone wholesale changes, in the form of new management, a new coaching staff, and aggressive moves to overhaul the roster through both the draft and free agency.

Those changes have paid off in a big way, as the Taproots entered last night's game at the Garden sitting fourth in the East, a dramatic improvement from the cellar dwelling squads of the past few seasons. Key to the turnaround has been the play of free agent signings Jake Turner (Red Fox, C/F) and Kinny DeMarcus (Hairy Bush Viper, G), as well as contributions from promising rookies Michael River (Water Deer, F) and Trevor Cruz (Painted Bat, G/F). It would also be remiss of us to forget Yesina Selas (Ruffed Red Lemur, G/F), who has embraced her role providing a spark off the bench and is making her case for Sixth Fur of the Year.

Their opponent this night would be arguably the toughest they had faced yet. The Dakota Bikers had lost only two games before coming to Plymouth, looking poised to repeat as FBA Champions.

For the Taproots fans in attendance, this game represented their one chance to see the defending champs at home. But for Turner, this was a chance at redemption. His season had ended last year against this team, with a missed shot at the buzzer in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, as the Bikers eliminated the Seattle Summit.

From opening tip, it soon became apparent that this game would mirror that Game 6 in one key respect. It would be a tough, physical battle at center between Turner and fellow Brit Benjamin Durby (Fallow Deer, C/F). The English bigfurs are close friends off the court, but both players are fiercely competitive on it, and it showed as they went at it in the post.

As the game wore on however, not only did Turner force Durby into foul trouble and ultimately foul out in the fourth quarter, he also caught the Bikers off guard by passing out to open teammates. He would record 7 assists on the night, well above his season average of 2.6 per game. His teammates would also get in on the act of sharing the basketball, with 9 of 12 Taproots players recording at least two assists. By contrast, Dakota relied heavily on their All Star backcourt to run their offense, with Matthew Silvius (Weasel, G) and Jonathan Lawyer (Meerkat, G) combining for 23 of their team’s 39 assists.

The result was the measure of redemption Turner sought, as he lead the Taproots to a 121-118 victory over the Bikers, the same team that caused heartache for him this past postseason. He earned Player of the Game honors with a stat line of 23 points (including a back breaking 11 of 12 from the free throw line), 7 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 block.

After the final buzzer sounded, with Turner taking in a deserved standing ovation from the sellout crowd, there was no longer any doubt.

Believe it. The era of "Wild Growth" has arrived in Plymouth.

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