Post 15-point victory over previously-undefeated Quebec
SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Storm won their inaugural regular-season game in the National Basketball League of Canada on Thursday night.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
The Quebec Kebs’ Shaun Fountain, 7, defends Eric Gilchrese, 3, of the Summerside Storm during first-half action at EastLink Arena on Thursday night.
The Storm defeated the previously-undefeated Quebec Kebs (2-1) by a 120-105 score.
An announced crowd of 2,238 fans was not disappointed by the energized Storm.
“It was a good energy," said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. "It was a little tense.
“The guys knew that we didn’t perform in the pre-season the way we’re capable of doing, so they want this one pretty bad.”
The Storm will host the Saint John Mill Rats tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The Storm controlled the play at both ends of the floor throughout most of the game, ending the first quarter ahead 29-19. The Storm defence was the key, holding Quebec to only one shot attempt throughout much of the quarter, while finding the bucket at the other end.
The Storm’s shooting cooled off in the second quarter, and the score was tied 37-37 with five minutes left in the half.
Storm power forward Mike Williams controlled the defensive boards, getting 10 defensive rebounds in the first half. But while the defence remained consistent, the offence continued to cool and the Storm trailed 47-45 at halftime.
The Storm shot 16-for-42 from the field and Quebec was no better at 16-for-39. The difference was in the free throws, with Summerside only making only nine out of 19 from the line while Quebec went 12-for-18.
It was a different story in the second half. The Storm came out attacking the basket as team members led the crowd in cheers from the bench.
Williams continued to dominate the boards, picking up 10 more defensive rebounds in the second half for a game-high 22.
The big guns came alive for the Storm as guard Julian Allen made clutch baskets throughout the second half to take the wind out of any Quebec run. Allen finished with a game-high 23 points.
“We shot the ball better, but again we got out of transition and attacked the basket. We still weren’t that good from the free-throw line, but hopefully that will come. We had to be more physical, more aggressive. I thought we had an advantage down low tonight (Thursday), and Mike Williams, he had 15, 20 boards. He was a big difference.” Storm head coach Joe Salerno
Guard Dwight Brewington picked up 17 points while Williams and Louie McCroskey each contributed 15.
The Storm led 57-55 with about nine minutes left in the third quarter, and never looked back.
Clutch shots by Brewington, Williams, Allen and Eric Gilchrese kept increasing the Storm’s lead.
“We shot the ball better, but again we got out of transition and attacked the basket,” said Salerno. “We still weren’t that good from the free-throw line, but hopefully that will come.
“We had to be more physical, more aggressive. I thought we had an advantage down low tonight (Thursday), and Mike Williams, he had 15, 20 boards. He was a big difference.”
One of the loudest cheers of the night came with 21 seconds left in the game. That’s when Storm head coach Joe Salerno put former UPEI Panther Doug McKinney on the floor. While only in the game for less than a minute, McKinney hauled in one defensive rebound.
Salerno said the Storm’s letdown in the second quarter is something that happens, but the team has to be mentally tough enough to overcome it.
“Quebec’s a good team,” he said. “All of the teams in this league will make runs, and we just have to be mentally tough enough when they make that run not to lose track of what we’re trying to do – pressuring the ball getting out and running.
“So mental toughness comes with playing games together and team chemistry.”