Rainmen pull out one-point decision
SUMMERSIDE - The Summerside Storm lost a heartbreaker to the Halifax Rainmen in the final seconds of regulation time, but it was their free-throw shooting that let them down Thursday night.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Chris Cayole, 34, of the Summerside Storm drives to the basket against the Halifax Rainmen’s Lawrence Wright, 23, and Abduhalli Kuso on Thursday night. The Rainmen won the National Basketball League of Canada game 97-96. In the background is official Rick MacKinnon.
Halifax pulled out a 97-96 victory at EastLink Arena after the Rainmen's Justin Johnson made a layup with five seconds left on the clock.
The late bucket came just moments after the Storm's Julian Allen missed two free throws that would have put his team up by three points with 14 seconds to play.
But Summerside head coach Joe Salerno couldn't put the blame squarely on Allen when the team shot 15-for-35 from the free-throw line for the game.
"That's not on Julian Allen,” Salerno said. “If we miss free throws the entire game, you can't win.
"We almost got out of here with a win, shooting 42 per cent from the line."
The loss was the Storm's fourth straight, leaving them at 5-7 (won-lost) in the inaugural National Basketball League of Canada season. Halifax improved to 5-4.
Summerside fell behind 17-7 at one point in the first quarter. But, energized by four consecutive three-pointers from Chris Cayole, the Storm rallied to lead 22-19 going into the second quarter.
The Storm would push its lead to as much as 10 points in the second quarter, but the Rainmen chipped away to lead 47-46 at halftime.
Halifax's Taliek Brown had 10 of his 16 points in the first half, while Summerside's Louie McCroskey had 14 of his 18 points through the first 24 minutes.
The Storm seemed to solve their recent third-quarter difficulties, taking a 72-70 lead into the fourth frame.
In the final minute of the game, Eric Gilchrese made two free throws to bring the Storm within 95-94.
"We did almost everything that we wanted to do tonight (Thursday). We had less than 20 turnovers, we held them to (under) 100 points, we won the battle on the glass. . . I can't ask for anything more from them. These guys have been shooting free throws the same way since they've been 12. All we have to do is bump up our reps." Storm head coach Joe Salerno
Brown pushed the ball back down court, but was called for a charging foul under the hoop, giving possession back to Summerside.
With 24 seconds left on the clock, point guard Al Stewart connected on an alley-oop to Cayole that electrified the crowd. Halifax botched the ensuing inbound play, handing the ball back to the Storm.
Allen went to the line with 14 seconds left, and his team up 96-95, but missed both shots.
Johnson then sped down court and banked a tough shot off the glass, to the shock of the Summerside crowd.
"We played a very tough game against a good team,” said Halifax head coach Josep Claros Canals. “I think we deserved this win.
“You win in the last second, but you fight all game."
Game-high 20 points
Cayole had a game-high 20 for the Storm. Lawrence Wright led the Rainmen with 18.
Despite his team's poor free-throw shooting, Salerno was encouraged by the Storm's effort.
"We did almost everything that we wanted to do tonight (Thursday),” said Salerno. “We had less than 20 turnovers, we held them to (under) 100 points, we won the battle on the glass. . . I can't ask for anything more from them.
"These guys have been shooting free throws the same way since they've been 12. All we have to do is bump up our reps."
The Storm has a week off before hosting Halifax again at EastLink Arena on Thursday, Dec. 15.