By Cole Hobson
Moncton Times & Transcript
MONCTON, N.B. – The Moncton Miracles rode the hot hand of Darrell Wonge to earn a 103-97 victory over the Summerside Storm in National Basketball League of Canada action at the Moncton Coliseum on Tuesday night.
Wonge gave his team a spark with steady three-point shooting that saw him drain 8-of-14 attempts from behind the line, en route to a 31-point performance.
“We did not play well tonight (Tuesday), they know that,” assessed Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “They know we didn’t execute well on either end of the floor.
“We were coming off a big win in Saint John (on Friday), and to come in here it was certainly a let down. We’re excited to have the opportunity to play these guys again on Thursday. I think we can give them a much better showing, a much better game.”
Moncton (8-23), currently sits in the basement of the seven-team league. Summerside (11-21) is in sixth place, and was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss. The two teams meet again Thursday in Summerside at 7 p.m.
The game was a closely-contested affair, which had Moncton jump out to an early lead that it held for the majority of the game. Several times throughout the game, Summerside threatened to draw closer and gain momentum, but Wonge’s sharp shooting helped keep them at bay and kept the momentum with the Miracles.
Wonge said he was surprised to get so many open looks from behind the three-point line, but credited the work of his teammates.
Moncton opened the game with a strong first quarter that was highlighted by an early 11-0 run, capped off by a Trayvon Lathan slam-dunk that put the Miracles ahead 17-4.
Summerside used strong rebounding and capitalized on turnovers late in the quarter to claw back and make the score 31-23 at the end of the first frame.
Summerside went on an 11-0 run towards the end of the second quarter to pull even at 42-42, but Wonge nailed his fourth three-pointer of the half to push Moncton back ahead and end the slide, and the home side went into half leading 45-44.
The Miracles briefly lost the lead at the beginning of the second half, but then used a 14-0 run to pull ahead for good in the second half of the third quarter. Summerside closed the gap slightly, but still trailed 75-65 heading into the fourth quarter.
Summerside pulled within four points late in the fourth quarter to make it 99-95, but that was as close as they would come. Moncton capitalized on some late turnovers to ice the game.
Along with Wonge’s standout performance, Moncton had strong efforts from Sylvania Watkins, who added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Akeem Wright, who chipped in 16 points and seven assists.
For Summerside, Mike Williams, Al Stewart, Stephen McDowell and Julian Allen all had 14 points.
Summerside was 39-for-95 (41 per cent) in field goals, including 5-for-16 (31 per cent) in three-pointers. The Storm were 14-for-21 (71 per cent) from the free-throw line.
“Lack of execution on our end,” said Salerno. “I think we did not execute our game plan defensively.
“Offensively, I felt like we weren’t in synch whatsoever. At this part of the season, that’s just inexcusable. I don’t think we played well, bottom line.”
While Salerno wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance, he was willing to give Moncton credit for a good performance.
“Obviously Darrell Wonge was shooting the ball very well,” said Salerno. “He knocked down a couple (of three-pointers) uncontested, but a lot of them he had a hand in his face and he shot the ball very well.
“Moncton played well. They got out of transition early, they are a tough team. They’re a tough team to defend, they have a lot of bodies, a lot of skilled guys that have great size. When you get a guy shooting the ball like Wonge did tonight, that really gives them the inside outside look.”