Sunday afternoon, the College Park SkyHawks defeated the Grand Rapids Drive 94-98 at home in the Gateway Center Arena. As the SkyHawks lineup was crippled with injuries, the team followed the “next man up” mantra to shoulder the weight.

Cat Barber, a guard averaging 13.5 points and 5 assists this season, sat out the game due to illness. Next to him was Jordan Sibert, a fellow guard averaging 10 points and 3 rebounds on the season. He was sidelined with an Achilles injury. As Head Coach Noel Gillespie preaches, it was the responsibility of the rest of the guys to come up big and take the win.

Forward Nick Ward did just that. He came off the bench to play 28 minutes, filling in his teammates absence, and posted 19 points and 11 rebounds. The rookie year G-league player from Michigan State University who has been averaging 13 minutes this season almost doubled his playtime in the win over the Drive.  

“We came into our own with the rebounding. We are playing as a team now. These past two games we made little adjustments and tonight it really showed.” Ward said.

Two way forward, Brandon Goodwin, stepped up for the team as well. Goodwin finished with 14 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in an intense 47 minutes of play. Goodwin only rested for one minute throughout the night.

“That’s what I signed up for. I’m in the gym all the time i’m always on the bike at the games, at the apartment im always trying to keep myself ready for the next game.” Goodwin said.

Both Nick Ward and Brandon Goodwin were recognized as an NBA G League top performer for Sunday’s action.

What made this win extra sweet was the fact that it was a revenge game for the SkyHawks at home. The last time the Drive and the SkyHawks matched up was Friday, Dec 6th in Michigan. College Park lost 100-116 on the road. The SkyHawks had four players scoring in double digits that night, but the defense fell through and gave up an 18 point lead.

“It feels great. Them coming into our building you know we wanted to make sure the fans got what they came for and also win that revenge game…To just come back and come home and play them the next day or whatever it was good to get a win.” Goodwin said.

The SkyHawks (6-6) now move to #9 in the Eastern Conference. The team is looking for their first back-to-back win as they will face the #8 Go-Go on Wednesday in College Park. Tip off is set for 7pm and the game will be aired on ESPN+.

College Park Skyhawks guard Charlie Brown had 18 points Sunday afternoon. Photo by: Symone Stanley/The Atlanta Voice

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