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Henderson leads charge as Ignite come-from-behind for 1st victory of season

The return of guard Scoot Henderson juiced the G League Ignite and propelled the team to their first win of the season.

The Ignite came from behind to beat the Santa Cruz Warriors, 125-115, Saturday, Nov. 12 on Marvel Super Hero Day from The Dollar Loan Center.

“I think we just need to play 48 minutes,” guard Mojave King said. “That was an emphasis that coach had coming into the game, it was one of the keys he wrote on the whiteboard was to play hard for 48 minutes.

“We started slow – he said the game was going to start fast and it did. I don’t think we were ready for that.”

Coming into the game, the Ignite were one of five teams that had yet to record a victory this season. The NBA affiliate is now 1-3 on the year.

After the brief stop home, the team will head to the road for back-to-back road games in Oklahoma City for a couple of season opener rematches. In the opener, the Blue beat the Ignite, 134-125.

“This is big boy basketball,” head coach Jason Hart said. “These guys signed up for it and this is just what they’re going to have to do.”

Henderson had a slow start to the game as he made his return to the court for the first time in close to a week. He didn’t make his first basket until the 8:41-mark of the second quarter.

“Definitely,” he said when asked if he’s noticed a change in defenses guarding him. “But there’s always a solution. They can only guard me one way and I feel like I’m very versatile to where I can get my teammates open shots and still manipulate them to get a win.”

The slow start wasn’t just put forth by the projected No. 2 overall pick in next June’s NBA Draft; for the second straight game, the Ignite fell behind by double-digits in the first quarter.

Santa Cruz went on an 8-0 run that turned into a 23-6 first quarter run by the next timeout, leading by as many as 19 points in the opening frame.

“It starts with on-court leadership,” Hart said. “At the end of the day, we’ve been up [before] and lost. Here, we started losing and came back. It’s a 48-minute game and that’s how we have to approach it. We never want to get to a point like that but I’ll take the win because they’re hard to get.”

The lead grew to as large as 25 points in the second quarter, largely behind a 13-4 Warrior run to start the second 12-minute interval. Heading into halftime, the Ignite found themselves down 18 on the scoreboard.

“At halftime the assistant coaches kind of jumped on the players and told them they were underachieving,” Hart said. “I didn’t raise my voice. I remained calm and just told them what we needed to get done. And at this level, you’re a pro. If I have to motivate you, you shouldn’t be here.”

The spirited discussion resulted in the NBA’s affiliate going on a run and cutting the deficit to single-digits for the first time since the first quarter. The team used a 18-0 run going back to the second quarter to cut the deficit to three points in the third quarter.

Henderson’s second basket of the game cut the deficit to eight during the team’s game-changing run. He also drained a three-pointer to cut it to four and again in the fourth, he hit from deep to cut it to three.

With less than five minutes left in regulation, Henderson picked off his one and only steal of the game and took it all the way for a dunk and lead for the home team. That marked the first time the Ignite led since, 5-2, in the first quarter.

Henderson finished with 18 points on 8-of-19 from the field to go along with a career-high 16 assists.

“That’s his development,” Hart said. “He has a name so every team is going to try and stop him. So what he’s learning at 18 years old is to take what the defense gives him [...] Today, with 16 assists, he showed that I’m going to use my teammates and when they get going, I can get going.”

Henderson was one of seven players that scored in double-figures in this one which marked the third time through the first four games that six or more players reached double-figures.

King led the way with a game-high 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting including seven made threes. As a team, the Ignite went 19-of-30 from deep.

“I think we just started being aggressive,” he said. We started attacking and kicking out – we had 34 assists as a team. We were just looking to find the right shots and I was just open a little bit so I was just trying to shoot the right shots.”

Guard Pooh Jeter, forwards Aubrey Dawkins and Sidy Cissoko along with centers Efe Abogidi and Eric Mika round out the other Ignite players who reached double-digit scoring.


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