Will Lightning strike twice at MetroCentre?

By Paul Keller

The Rockford Lightning of the Continental Basketball Association is looking to repeat as Western Division Champions this season.

The Lightning and new head coach Charley Rosen open their season at the Rockford MetroCentre Nov. 20 against Rochester.

Free agent camp will start Nov. 4 for the Lightning. Twenty free agents will be invited to tryouts, but only 10 will make the team.

The Lightning finished the 1986-87 regular season with 22 wins and 26 losses. In the playoffs, the Lightning defeated LaCrosse four games to three and won the West Division Championship by beating Cincinnati four games to one. However, the Lightning lost to the Rapid City Thrillers in five games in the CBA championship series.

Ten players from the 1986-87 Lightning team are expected to return for this year’s tryouts. Richard Rellford, who played for the Michigan Wolverines in his college days, is the top returnee. The 6-foot-6-inch power forward was Rockford’s leading scorer last year with an average of 19.9 points per game in 36 contests.

Another Lightning asset is Anthony Welch, a 6-foot-9 forward from Illinois. He averaged 11.7 ppg and 6.2 rebounds per game in 23 contests last season.

At center, Jim Lampley from Arkansas-Little Rock was the second leading rebounder with an 8.6 average. He also averaged 11.6 ppg in 36 games.

Acquired from Savannah for the playoffs last season, 6-foot-7 forward Pace Mannoin from Utah gives some offensive help. He averaged 16.8 ppg in 17 playoff games for the Lightning last year.

NIU’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, Allen “The Horn” Rayhorn, also will return for his second season with the Lightning. Rayhorn averaged 5.2 ppg and 4.7 rpg last season for the Lightning.

Other key Lightning players are Fred Cofield, a point-guard acquired by the Lightning from the Albany Patroons for off-guard Milt Wagner and Ozell Jones, who was picked up by the Lightning in the Cincinnati dispersal draft. The Cincinnati ballclub is taking a one-year hiatus from the CBA.

osen replaced coach Mauro Panaggio, who is heading to the Quad Cities Thunder, a first-year member of the CBA.

osen comes over from the Eastern Division. He headed the Savannah Spirits to 20 wins and 28 losses last season.

osen said enthusiam “is running high in this program, and it is a pleasure to work for this organization.”

osen was very pleased to see season ticket sales have doubled this season. Season ticket sales have jumped from 600 for 1986-87 season to 1,200 for the upcoming 1987-88 season.

The Lightning schedule has increased from 48 games in 1986-87 to 54 games this season giving Rockford fans three more home games.