Kenneth Lofton Jr. leads the Delaware Blue Coats to a back-to-back sweep over the Grand Rapids Gold

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Kenneth Lofton Jr. goes up for a layup. Lofton recorded a game-high 43 points in the win on Friday. - Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. - Photo via Payton Tuorto

The Delaware Blue Coats kept the good vibes rolling on Friday, Feb. 23, defeating the Grand Rapids Gold for the second consecutive day by a final score of 130-112.

Despite the final score, the first quarter indicated that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant evening for the Coats. Delaware got outscored 35-17 in the opening frame, shooting just 22% from the field. The tides quickly turned though, as the Coats outscored the Gold by 15 in both the second and third quarters to go into the fourth up by 12.

“They played harder than we did to start the game. I thought we played out of character,” Head Coach Mike Longabardi said. “Then we got back to what we do and the people that do it, and it looked really good.”

Manning the ship for Delaware was Kenneth Lofton Jr. In his second game back with the Coats, the 21-year-old scored a game-high 43 points on 13-20 shooting, grabbing nine rebounds in the process. Longabardi saw significant progress from Lofton Jr. on Friday in his ramp-up to action and believes he can fill the void left by Darius Bazley, who recently got promoted to the 76ers.

“He came out way better,” Longabardi said. “I thought last night he had some rust on him, as did Terq [Smith]. Obviously tonight he was much, much better.”

It wasn’t just Lofton Jr. who made an impact, as seven out of the Coats’ eight players who entered the game scored in double figures. The balanced performance had Longabardi very pleased and hopeful for the remainder of the season.

“I’m at the point right now where I have no hesitation putting anyone in the game,” Longabardi said. “That’s a tribute to them, but I don’t know if a lot of coaches can say that. I truly feel that way.”

On top of Lofton Jr., Terquavion Smith also played in his second game since returning to Delaware after spending some time with the Sixers. The rookie learned a lot in the NBA, and how he’s trying to bring that knowledge back to the G League.

“It feels good,” Smith said. “All I have to say is everything I learned with the Sixers I’m just trying to come down and bring it here and help the team keep winning because they were winning when I was gone, so just keeping that good energy and good motivation so we can keep going and do what we wanna do.”

With the win, the Blue Coats now sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 14-6 record. That means nothing to Longabardi though, who is taking things one day at a time and has his eyes set on the end goal.

“We just take it one game at a time, that’s just our mentality,” Longabardi said. “We come to work, we do our jobs, and then the results will take care of itself.”

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