The Storm put together what head coach Joe Salerno called their most complete game of the season in a lopsided 107-86 victory over the Moncton Miracles at Eastlink Arena. It was a much-needed win for the Storm, who had lost three straight and six of their last seven games.
“It was more a sigh of relief not because we won a game, but because I felt we played better,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “I thought we played more the style of basketball we played to open up the season. . .
“I felt if we got back to playing how we were coming out of training camp, we were going to start seeing those results.”
Meanwhile, Miracles head coach Ricky Benitez was not in good humour after the game.
“We came out flat, and did not play the way we have been playing for 12 games,” said Benitez. “That’s it.”
The win pulled the Storm back to .500 at 6-6 (won-lost) while the Atlantic Division-leading Miracles fell to 8-5.
“Winning solves a lot of problems,” said Storm guard Greg Plummer, who scored a franchise-high 40 points that included eight three-pointers. Troy Jackson's 39-point effort last season was the previous high.
In an effort to shake up the Storm, Salerno opted to insert Doug McKinney of Charlottetown into the starting lineup.
“We haven’t been getting as much out of that four spot (power forward) as I would have liked,” said Salerno. “I thought he (McKinney) played pretty well. Eight points and 30 minutes of play is the most he’s played in a game, and I thought he held himself up pretty well.”
Antonio Ballard continued his strong play for the Storm with a 22-point effort. Louis Birdsong Jr., Nick Evans and Al Stewart all had nine points.
Darrell Wonge and Sylvania Watkins each poured in 18 points for Moncton.
Before 1,602 fans at Eastlink Arena, Plummer was on fire from the outset, sinking five three-pointers and 25 points in the first half.
“I wasn’t thinking about what needed to be done offensively,” said Plummer. “We’ve had our struggles offensively because we were thinking about what needed to be done, like move the ball here, here, here.
“It was more a sigh of relief not because we won a game, but because I felt we played better. I thought we played more the style of basketball we played to open up the season. . . I felt if we got back to playing how we were coming out of training camp, we were going to start seeing those results.” - Storm head coach Joe Salerno
“I had to be one of the guys to take the lead and say, ‘We’re just going to play the game, and whatever happens, happens.’”
The only time the Storm trailed in the game was 2-0. The Storm’s biggest lead of the first quarter was 25-8, and Plummer’s third three-pointer at the end of the first quarter made it 28-10 after 12 minutes.
The Miracles scored the first three baskets of the second quarter to close the game to 28-16, but McKinney drained a key three-pointer that drew a loud cheer and gave the Storm a 31-16 lead. The Storm led by as many as 24 points on two occasions – 46-24 and 50-26 – and went into halftime in front 54-34.
“We just needed to get back to what got us the wins in the first place,” said Plummer. “Just playing defence and not really worrying about what happens on offence.
“Playing tough defence, pressuring teams and getting stops and turnovers and being able to run is what got us out to the big lead.”
Plummer continued to hold the hot hand in the second half as he sank three more three-pointers and 10 points in the first four minutes of the third period. The Storm finished the third quarter in front 85-61.
The Storm then proceeded to build their biggest lead of the game -- 30 points – at 91-61 and 97-67 in the fourth quarter.
Ralphy Holmes, who was signed by the Storm last week, is scheduled to arrive in Summerside on Monday night and will get in three solid practises this week in preparation for Friday’s home game against the Windsor Express. Salerno added that Chris Cayole will likely return from a calf injury on Friday as well.