Knights host ABA playoff contest

Published 7:27 pm Friday, March 11, 2011

The Seven City Knights play their first game in the ABA (American Basketball Association) Playoffs Saturday evening at Churchland High School.

Former Lakeland hoop standout Jaleel Nelson hurdles an ABA East All-Star teammate during the slam dunk contest at the ABA All-Star Game in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Knights are 16-2 in their inaugural season and are the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. The No. 24 West Virginia Blazers (8-8) visit the Knights for a 6 p.m. tip at Churchland.

Four former Lakeland basketball players, Jaleel Nelson, Eric Ruffin, Travis Klink and John Lillard, play for the Knights, who finished the regular season with a 169-75 romp over the Portside Pistons. The Knights scored 40 or more points in each quarter.

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Nelson, a 2006 Lakeland alum, All-CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) and All-NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) caliber standout in four years at Chowan University, and currently an assistant coach with King’s Fork’s basketball program, represented the Knights in the ABA All-Star Game in Jacksonville, Fla. on Feb. 26.

Nelson and the East team won 123-122. Nelson, a 6-foot-5 guard, totaled 20 points, including four three-pointers, with nine rebounds and four assists.

Against West Virginia, the Knights are playing for a spot in the next round and a trip to play the East Kentucky Energy in Bluefield, Ky. next Saturday.

The ABA’s Final Four will be hosted in Winnie, TX by the No. 1-ranked Southeast Texas Mavericks Mar. 23-29. The final four teams will play best-of-three series in the semifinals and championship.