Post Season Awards

Regular-season MVP Nikki McCray of Columbus beat out second place finisher Teresa Edwards of Atlanta (below) by 17 points

Seattle Reign forward Cindy Brown was named to the second team All-ABL squad.

This Week In the American Basketball League

The Inaugural Season in Review

Every person who witnessed an ABL game during this past season saw simply the best women's basketball in the world. Playing at a torrid pace with elbow-catching toughness, the league's players made America realize what it had been missing by not having a women's circuit in the U.S. Each team, like all other competitive teams, entered the season with the hopes of making history and staking claim to the first-ever ABL Championship trophy. The Columbus Quest fulfilled that dream and lived up to its name, conquering every opponent during the regular season at least twice.
Two teams--Colorado and Portland--failed to defeat Columbus, as the Quest finished the regular season with a league-best 31-9 record and were 5-2 in the playoffs en route to the ABL title. The ABL season featured 70 games decided by three points or less and five overtime games, including one triple and one double, while the biggest margin of victory was 44 points. Home court advantage was alive and well in the ABL as the home team won 108 of 160 games (.675)

Eastern Conference Wrap-Up

The Quest dominated from the start, winning its first 11 games (the longest winning streak in the league) and 18 of 19 before the All-Star Break in mid-December. The Quest clinched the Eastern Conference title on Jan. 19, with a 43-point win over the Atlanta Glory. The Richmond Rage, winners of nine of its last 14 games in the regular season, earned a playoff berth with its second-place finish. The Rage twice defeated Atlanta over the final two weeks of the season to stave off a late Atlanta run (seven wins over its final 11 games). The New England Blizzard finished strong with a five-game win streak but could not recover from key injuries in the early going, namely Clarissa Davis Wrightsil. The Blizzard went on an eight-game slide while she healed from a meniscus tear in her right knee.

Western Conference Wrap-up

The Western Conference race was the complete reversal of the East. The San Jose Lasers and Seattle Reign were the frontrunners early, but the Colorado Xplosion finished the season by winning 21 of its final 27 games (including a perfect 8-0 December) and claimed the Western Conference title. The Xplosion had started the season 4-9 and lost its first seven road games before pulling into a first-place tie at the All-Star Break. San Jose and Seattle were neck-and-neck down the stretch before San Jose's double-overtime win over Columbus on February 17 (combined with Portland's win over Seattle). Portland suffered a nearly identical setback to New England, as center Natalie Williams tore the meniscus in her right knee. Portland went 1-7 during her absence. Greg Bruce resigned as coach on Dec. 31 after a 5-17 start and former Purdue head coach Lin Dunn took over. Dunn and the Power finished the 1997 campaign 9-9 and 14-26 overall.

1996-97 American Basketball League Final Standings

Eastern Conference

Team Name		 W-L	PCT.	GB	Home	Away	Streak  East	West
x-Columbus Quest	 31-9	.775	-	19-1	12-8	L2	18-6	13-6	
y-Richmond Rage		 21-19	.525	10	16-4	5-15	L2	12-12	9-7	
Atlanta  Glory		 18-22	.450	13	12-8	6-14	W3	10-14	8-8
New England Blizzard 	 16-24	.400	15	11-9	5-15	W5	8-16	8-8
Western Conference

Team Name		 W-L	PCT.	GB	Home	Away	Streak  East	West
x-Colorado Xplosion	 25-15	.625	-	16-4	9-11	L1	7-9	18-6	
y-San Jose Lasers	 18-22	.450	7	11-9	7-13	L2	9-7	9-15	
Seattle Reign		 17-23	.425	8	13-7	4-16	W1	7-9	10-14
Portland Power	 	 14-26	.350	11	10-10	4-16	W2	3-13	11-13
	x-clinched conference title		y-clinched playoff berth

The ABL All-Star Game - December 15, 1996

Colombus, Ohio--The Inaugural ABL All-Star Game was held Sunday, December 15, 1996, at the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center. Selected through a combination of balloting by fans, ABL coaches and general managers, and league management, the ABL's top players were given an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of 6,387 fans and a nationally-televised audience on SportsChannel and its Prime/Fox affiliates. The West squad used a 15-0 fourth-quarter run to down the East, 81-65. Nissan, the presenting sponsor, awarded the Game's MVP-Seattle's Tari Phillips, who scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds-a Nissan Pathfinder. Nikki McCray of the Quest scored a game-high 20 points for the East while Portland's Natalie Williams scored 16 points and had 15 rebounds for the West.
In the Lady Foot Locker Three-Point Shooting Contest, Portland's Jennifer Jacoby took home a $5,000 check after netting 15 of 25 possible points at halftime of the All-Star Game. In the Finals, Jacoby defeated New England's Davis Wrightsil (14 points) and Columbus' Shannon Johnson and Katie Smith (13 each). Incidentally, Jacoby only made one of her four three-point attempts during the first-half of the season. She was selected by the team to participate as no Portland player was among the top eight three-point shooters at the time of selection. Asked how she felt shooting under pressure: "I was a little nervous. When you're shooting for $5,000, that can happen."

Official ABL Team Merchandise

Replica jerseys, clothing, caps, basketballs, and publications are now available on line in our new Team Store. Glory, Lasers, and Xplosion jerseys are here now.

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