BELLINGHAM - The Bellingham Slam is a known hotbed for Western Washington University talent. Everyone from the players to the announcer's roots seem to lie with WWU.
"I guess Western is a little farm league to the Slam," player-coach Tyler Amaya said.
On Friday, June 6, the Slam added one more to the tradition. Former WWU guard Alfred Davis made his Slam debut in Bellingham's 136-118 win over the International Basketball League All-Stars, which is a compilation of some of the league's top talent, at the Whatcom Community College Pavilion.
Davis came in off the bench and played 21 minutes while scoring nine points, including two fastbreak layups late in the game.
"Coach Tyler told me to come out here and be aggressive," Davis said. "We were short a couple guys and he just told me to come out here and play good defense."
The faster-paced game of the IBL came as no new challenge for Davis, who was part of WWU's Final Four run during the 2012-13 season.
Davis has been practicing with the club off and on for the past couple months and his contribution to the Slam came quickly once he got on the court six minutes into the game.
Minutes later, he sank a 3-pointer to put the Slam up by four. Davis took 10 shots in the game and sank four of them.
"Alfred's got a winning attitude. He's played with a winner," Amaya said. "He fit in really well with us. He's not a guy that's going to come out and demand 20 shots."
Davis also got to experience the IBL on the Slam's home court, somewhere the Slam, who are entrenched in first place with a 10-2 record, hadn't played since May 26.
And the Slam gave the home crowd what they wanted - a piece of the winning streak which was extended to nine on Friday night.
"We love playing back here," Amaya said. "We get really good crowd support. We're familiar with the floor and with the rims. It's good to get back in your own gym and get your friends and family and fan base behind you."
Having family watching didn't play out well for Amaya to begin the game, as he missed his first five shots.
Amaya turned it around in the second half, however, and ended the game with 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting and nine rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.
"I just stopped thinking and started playing," Amaya said. "Tonight, having my friends and family back in town, I think for the first time in a long time I got a little bit nervous. I really wanted to play well and I think I forced the issue to start the game."
Like Amaya, the Slam started slow, as the game went back and forth, including changing leads 17 times.
But a 3-pointer by Rico Wilkins, followed by a layup by the former WWU championship guard, who had 19 points in the game, showed signs of a turnaround.
Moments later, a layup by Jacob Stevenson, who scored 22 points, put the Slam up for good. Sam Freeman then hit two quick 3-pointers to give the Slam a comfortable eight-point lead in the second quarter.
At the half, the Slam led 63-57. The Slam's lead continued to build throughout the second half behind the 3-point shooting of the Slam. Bellingham went 14 of 43 from beyond the arc, good for 32.6 percent.
Blake Poole led all scorers with 26 points and 15 rebounds.
The Slam head to Seattle to take on the Flight on Saturday, June 7, when they'll look to continue their 9-game win streak.
Reach Joshua Hart by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 360-715-2851.