SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Storm made it two wins in a row Friday night, taking down the Saint John Mill Rats 112-98 in an aggressive and hard-fought game in the National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Mike Williams of the Summerside Storm is surrounded by Saint John Mill Rats during second-quarter action of Friday night’s National Basketball League of Canada contest in Summerside. The Mill Rats are, Steve DeLuca, 33; PJ Young, 34; Modibo Diarra, 42, and Jerome Brown, 23.
The Storm came out flat, and quickly found themselves down by four points. With only 1:38 gone in the first quarter, Storm head coach Joe Salerno didn’t like what he was seeing, and called a timeout before some of the announced crowd of 2,144 had an opportunity to get settled in their seats.
“Sometimes they just need a little jump start,” Salerno said. “This is about being mentally tough.
“Teams do go on runs, and you do have to react to those runs. I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half tonight (Friday).
“We didn’t come out with as much fire as I wanted us to tonight. I thought, in the second half, we played a little better.
“These guys want to win, they’re competitive. Sometimes you get off to a slow start, which we did tonight.
“I was glad to see that we refocused in the second half.”
Salerno said the team was “good in spurts.”
He added: “We had a couple of lapses. We’re still learning our rotation, but the aggressiveness, it’s coming and once we’re playing that aggressive all the time I think we can be a bear.”
The game was a sea-saw affair throughout the first quarter, with both teams struggling from the floor. There was little to choose from an offensive standpoint as the quarter ended with the Storm leading 21-20.
Saint John, led by Antoine Tisby, took control in the second period. Tisby led all scorers with 20 points.
The Storm defence kept the home team close, and opened the door for some key buckets by Julian Allen, Mike Williams and Xavier Hansbro.
Both Williams and Hansbro each had 19 points to lead the Storm.
“We had a couple of lapses. We’re still learning our rotation, but the aggressiveness, it’s coming and once we’re playing that aggressive all the time I think we can be a bear.” Storm head coach Joe Salerno
In the second half, the Mill Rats shot 24-for-43 while Summerside managed to go 23-for-47 from the floor.
A big difference came from the line with Summerside hitting 18-of-20 free throws in the second half while Saint John only netted 8-of-16 from the foul line.
The Storm simply outgunned the Mill Rats in the second half, and matched every run the Saint John squad made. The Storm wouldn’t be denied.
“That’s our competitive spirit,” Salerno said. “We had a couple of guys step up really big tonight. Eric Gilchrese had a good game again and Xavier Hansbro, who’s been injured the whole pre-season, hit some big shots.
The Mill Rats did a better job on both the offensive and defensive boards.
Saint John had 46 defensive rebounds to Summerside’s 36, and 16 offensive rebounds to better Summerside by one.
The Mill Rats’ Sani Ibrahim controlled the defensive boards, taking in eight rebounds, while Tisby took care of the offensive side bringing down four rebounds.
Two Mill Rats were handed technical fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct. The first went against PJ Young for a flagrant hard hit on Gilchrese. The second was against Ibrahim for an elbow to the face of Williams.
Play under the boards at both ends was full contact. At one point there were five players on the floor – three Storm and two Mill Rats – after battling for a rebound underneath the Storm’s basket.