Storm drops New Year’s Eve game before record crowd
SUMMERSIDE - The Summerside Storm ended 2011 with a loss on Saturday night.
© Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer
Al Stewart of the Summerside defends Anthony Anderson of the Saint John Mill Rats during Saturday night’s National Basketball League of Canada game at EastLink Arena in Summerside.
In front of an announced crowd of 3,296 - a record single-game attendance figure for the Storm at EastLink Arena - Summerside dropped its New Year's Eve contest to the Saint John Mill Rats 103-89.
Neither team shot well from the floor, but Saint John was able to push its lead to as many as 20 points in the second half thanks to 29 per cent three-point shooting.
Overall, Summerside shot 33 per cent from the floor while the Mill Rats netted 38 per cent of their field goals.
"When you shoot 33 per cent from the floor, you're not going to win many games,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “We had some issues with that early on in the season, and it kind of came back and bit us tonight (Saturday).
"Late in the game when we made our run, I felt we had some calls that didn't go our way, which was difficult. That was our lowest free-throw attempts on the season.
“Do I think there were some calls missed tonight?
“Yeah, I do. I'm not going to blame the loss on that - we shot it extremely poorly tonight."
Summerside made 81 per cent of its free throws Saturday, but only had 21 attempts from the line.
With a win, the Storm could have tied the Mill Rats for the fourth and final playoff spot midway through this inaugural NBL of Canada season.
Instead, Summerside fell to 7-11 (won-lost) while Saint John improved to 9-9.
The Storm were down just 23-18 after the first quarter, but the Mill Rats went on a hot streak in the second frame to lead 53-35 at halftime.
Despite playing through a leg injury, Anthony Anderson led Saint John with a game-high 24 points and 10 assists.
“(Anderson) did a magnificent job of keeping us as poised as he could, considering he was dealing with his leg injury cramping up out there,” said Saint John head coach Jaren Jackson. “He showed a lot of leadership tonight.
"When you shoot 33 per cent from the floor, you're not going to win many games." Storm head coach Joe Salerno
“We had an effective zone play. . . balanced scoring and played smart against a gutty team in Summerside. I expect Summerside to continue to play with a lot of pride – I never expect them to lay down.”
In the third quarter, the Mill Rats pushed their lead to 70-43, before the Storm were able to battle back thanks to buckets from Mike Williams and Al Stewart. Summerside was back within striking distance, down only 75-64 to start the fourth quarter.
But Saint John shot the ball consistently down the stretch, keeping the Storm at a distance. Seven Mill Rats players scored in double digits, including a 10-point, 19-rebound performance from Antoine Tisby.
Troy Jackson led the Storm with 22 points, but left late in the fourth quarter with a cut above his eye. Al Stewart had 18 points while Mike Williams added 14.
Stephen McDowell, playing in his first home game as a member of the Storm, scored 13 points.
Stewart also left the game in the fourth quarter after being crushed underneath two Saint John players during a scramble for a loose ball.
Salerno said Jackson received stitches Saturday night while early indications were that Stewart suffered either a fractured or dislocated rib.
The Storm play on the road Thursday against the Moncton Miracles, before travelling to London to take on the first-place Lightning the next night.
The Storm’s next home game is Jan. 12 against the Oshawa Power.
“Obviously there was a little excitement about (Saturday') game, but it's not going to make or break our playoff push,” said Salerno. “We're going to have an awful lot of opportunities to control our own destiny with 18 games left.”