The Outlaws capped off their first season in Enid with a 120-107 win over the Syracuse Stallions in The Basketball League Finals on Saturday at the Stride Bank Center.
After taking Game 1 in a 21-point win on the road, the Outlaws ended the series in two games to take home the TBL Championship. It was the Outlaws’ third sweep of the 2021 playoffs after finishing the regular season 22-2 overall, a TBL record. The Outlaws weren’t handed the trophy on Saturday, though.
Tempers flared in the third quarter when both teams were given offsetting technical fouls, and Outlaws head coach Ed Corporal said the scuffle awakened a monster. Just a few minutes later, Syracuse had the lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter, before Kyle Steward knocked down a 3-pointer on a kick-out from Devin Harris to give the Outlaws a 74-73 lead heading into the fourth.
Steward knocked down another three coming out of the break and the Outlaws never looked back. Steward scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half, knocking down five shots from behind the arc. Chance Comanche was named the MVP of the playoffs after finishing the game with 42 points, one shy of his career high.
The Outlaws were able to close out the season as TBL Champions despite having a target on their back for the majority of the season. Enid broke a league record when it jumped out to a 9-0 start to the season and other teams took notice. Enid dropped back-to-back games to Houston and Dallas before reeling off 13-straight to tie the Push for the best record in the league.
Enid head coach Ed Corporal got down on one knee after the final whistle blew and put his hands on his head.
“It meant a lot to me, it really did because this season was hard,” Enid head coach Ed Corporal said. “A lot of people think we just do X’s and O’s, but we do a lot more than that. I’ve dealt with so many things on the court and off the court. This is one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever had as a coach, but I persevered and I knew I could because I’ve been through hard things. When I went through the stroke, it prepared me for something like this.”
The Outlaws’s season almost ended in the second round of the playoffs after falling behind 1-0 in the conference championship against Houston. The Outlaws reeled off back-to-back wins in convincing fashion in what was the team’s closest series of the playoffs.
Comanche said his team benefitted from knowing what it’s like to play with your back against the wall while trying to close out the Stallions.
“We were in the same situation with Houston, down 1-0, and won two games in a row,” Comanche said. “So we knew what it was like to be on the other end and we didn’t want that on our end tonight. We just knew if we kept playing our game and putting pressure on them, they’d fold, and that’s what happened.”
Corporal said it meant more being able to share the championship with Tavares Sledge and Quentin Denson, two players that have been by Corporal’s side since he joined the league when it was created four years ago. Sledge scored 13 points on Saturday with nine of those coming in the second half.
In that time, Corporal has becoming the winningest coach in TBL history and now has his first championship as a head coach.
Charlie Marquardt joined the Outlaws after going through the TBL combine and being drafted by Enid.
“The hard way has been everything about my career this far honestly,” Marquardt said. “This is one of the best days of my life. We bought in to the system that coach created and we fulfilled it. We turned from strangers into family; it’s one of the best experiences of my life.”
Enid finished the season with a 30-3 overall record.