With the season hanging in the balance, the Raptors 905 won their last home game of the regular season, 111-104 in a do-or-die game against the College Park Skyhawks. Ron Harper Jr. had the performance of his life, triple-doubling with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists.
“He’s a lot more confident now,” said head coach Eric Khoury of Harper Jr. “Coming out of Raptors training camp, he knew he was most likely to get minutes by sprinting to the corner and kind of staying out of the way, and when the ball swings to him, knock down a shot. But over here, he can be more of a playmaker. He was a great playmaker today — both for himself and others.”
His points and assists were both career-highs. He also tied his career-high in rebounds.
“I’ve never been a 10-assist guy in my life,” said Harper Jr. “I’ve never really got eight until I stepped into this facility, so it’s just a product of what this coaching staff has brought out of me. They realized what I could do with the basketball.”
The Raptors 905 had one of their best 3-point shooting halves of the season despite Jeff Dowtin Jr. and Joe Wieskamp out of the lineup. They made nine out of their 20 attempts from behind the arc in the first half but cooled off from deep in the back half, making just two more from distance.
Most responsible for their first-half success was Raptors sharpshooter Ryan Hawkins. He went four-of-five from long-range for 12 points.
He was accompanied by Canadian Koby McEwen who saw an uptick in playing time Tuesday night. The born-and-bred Torontonian had eight points, four rebounds, and four assists on three-of-six shots in 21 minutes (an NBA G League career-high).
“I used to live at Kipling and Steeles,” said Koby McEwen as he shared how he fell in love with basketball. “When I was three, my dad bought me a Fisher Price net. I was watching Vince Carter – the cliché story every Toronto kid has…I never stopped playing since I was three.”
The second half for the 905 was driven more by their defence than offence, which forced 16 Skyhawks turnovers. Tra-Deon Hollins and Kylor Kelley were special on that end of the floor Tuesday night. Hollins had 13 points and three steals, one of which came from underneath the Skyhawks basket and led to Harper Jr. going to the line.
Kelley had nine rebounds and three blocks to go with his efficient 14 points.
“I appreciate his game more than he could ever know,” said Harper Jr. of Kelley’s impact. “He’s a great pro in my eyes, and he just shows up every day and he works. When Kylor first got here, he wasn’t playing much for a couple weeks – maybe a month. And he just stayed the course and kept working, and now he’s starting for us playing big minutes in big games. I’m so proud of Kylor. I’m so happy to be his teammate.”
The win kept the 905’s playoff hopes alive. They improved to 15-15 on the season with two games remaining. They finish the season with an 8-8 home record. The Skyhawks are also 15-15 but fall behind the Raptors 905 in the standings because they are 0-1 against them for the season. They are respectively 10th and 11th in the East and a game and a half back from the sixth seeded Windy City Bulls. The 905 would lose a tiebreaker with the Bulls.
The 905 go on the road for a final time to play a pair of games against the Greensboro Swarm, the first of which tips off on March 24 at 7:00 P.M. ET.
Tuesday evening’s College Park Skyhawks vs. Raptors 905 box score HERE.