Dressed in colorful uniforms honoring the iconic rodeo clowns who entertain during rodeo performances at the Findlay Toyota Center and across the country, the Northern Arizona Suns, renamed the Rodeo Clowns for one night, provided just as thrilling a show as a rodeo clown. The Rodeo Clowns pulled out a nail-biting 117-116 win over the Texas Legends in front of over 2,000 people on Saturday night, January 19th, at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
With 8.6 seconds on the clock and down by one in the fourth quarter, Rodeo Clowns guard Retin Obasohan received a pass from Aaron Epps and drove toward the basket. Obasohan battled through hard contact and drained the shot, giving the Rodeo Clowns a one-point advantage.
On the other side of the floor, the Rodeo Clowns held off the Texas Legends with some stout defense in the paint and grabbed the victory.
“I’ve got to give all credit to my teammates, they were able to give me the ball for me to make a play,” Obasohan said. “I’m just really happy for this one.”
Down by five points with three minutes remaining in the game, the Legends went on a 7-0 run to grab the lead. The advantage would change hands another five times before the final buzzer.
“We’ve seen this movie before, that’s the biggest thing,” Obasohan said about overcoming adversity in the game. “My dad always told me there is nothing new under the face of the sun. You can be up 20 (points), you can be down 20 (points) and at the end of the day, it’s a 48-minute ballgame.”
“We’ve been in games like this before and we’ve learned from it, we matured as a team,” Obasohan continued.
The victory marked the third in a row for a team that before the winning streak had lost a franchise-record 14 consecutive games. Rodeo Clowns Guard Peter Jok said the team got together for a meeting after the loss to the Grand Rapids Drive in Michigan on January 10th.
“We said we’re going to finish the next 25 games strong, play together no matter what happens,” recalled Jok, who led the team with 24 points in the victory against the Legends. “We’ve been playing together every game since then. Tonight we picked each other up, when somebody was going we found them.”
Even when times were going tough, Rodeo Clowns Head Coach Bret Burchard says the team has stayed together on the court and off. During the game on Saturday night, Rodeo Clowns guard Jawun Evans fell down and the entire bench rushed to pick him up, which Burchard said prompted a technical foul warning from one of the officials.
“The guys have really bonded together,” Burchard said. “If you watch our last two games on the road, the engagement of our bench when they’re not in the game, they’re cheering for their teammates, encouraging them. The bench is working just as hard to get a stop as the guys on the court are and that’s made all the difference.”
Also assisting the Rodeo Clowns on Saturday night was a return to the home court. Saturday night was the first game in front of the home fans in 13 days and just the second home game in nearly a month’s time.
“We have one of the toughest schedules in the league this year, we are away seventy-five days of the season,” Jok said. “It feels great to come back in front of the home crowd. It was electric tonight and they came out here and supported us. We felt we went off the energy vibe that they brought in. It just felt great to be back.”
The specialized rodeo clown uniforms the fans watched the players bring home the victory in will be available for auction at a later date with proceeds benefitting the Prescott Western Heritage Foundation.
While Obasohan prefers the Northern Arizona Suns purple, he enjoyed donning a special uniform and team name to honor the area’s heritage.
“They were actually not bad, I thought they would turn out a little bit weirder..it has a nice SpongeBob touch to it,” Obasohan said. “Whenever we can do things that incorporate the community or show that we as a team don’t exist without the support of our fans.”
“I wish we would do more stuff like this,” Obasohan continued. “I actually enjoyed it and I think the fans did too.”
The Rodeo Clowns (6-24) once again become the Northern Arizona Suns for their home matchup against the Salt Lake City Stars on Tuesday, January 22nd at 11 am. The early start time is due to the annual Kids Day Game as thousands of children from around Yavapai County will pack the Findlay Toyota Center to watch the Northern Arizona Suns compete.
Photo Gallery by Torrence Dunham / Signals
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