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Jason Simmonds
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Storm newcomer sinks key baskets in win over Windsor

SUMMERSIDE – Ralphy Holmes did not disappoint in his Summerside Storm debut!

Ralphy Holmes of the Summerside Storm drives to the basket while Windsor’s Chris Commons attempts to knock the ball away and teammate Darren Duncan stands his ground defensively during Friday night’s game at Eastlink Arena.

Holmes scored a game-high 24 points, including two key back-to-back baskets in the fourth quarter, in the Storm’s 102-92 victory over the Windsor Express on Friday night. The 10-point spread was not indicative of how the National Basketball League of Canada game was played.

“Wow, it was exciting,” said Holmes, who scored 14 of his points in the second half. “It was everything that I imagined. The fans were great.

“We stuck together as a team, we played good team basketball.”

The win moved the Storm one game over .500 at 7-6 (won-lost). The expansion Express fell to 3-7.

 “Windsor has a good team, and is better than their record shows,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “They can beat anybody on a given night.”

Before 2,083 fans at Eastlink Arena, the game came right down to the final minute before the outcome was decided.

Quick start

The Storm started off strong by scoring the game’s first six points, but the Express regrouped to take a 13-10 lead. The Storm finished the first quarter in front 19-18.

The Storm built an eight-point lead – 34-26 – in the second quarter, but the Express closed out the period on an 18-12 run to trail 46-44 at halftime.

The teams were tied 76-76 after the third quarter, and then with the score tied 87-87 in the fourth quarter, Holmes delivered back-to-back baskets to make it 91-87 – a lead Summerside would not relinquish.

“That’s why the coach brought me here – to have fun and help the team win anyway I can,” said Holmes.

Al Stewart had a strong game for the Storm with a 21-point effort while Antonio Ballard continued his steady play with his sixth double-double of the season – 10 points and 18 rebounds. Greg Plummer contributed 10 points.

“Wow, it was exciting. It was everything that I imagined. The fans were great. We stuck together as a team, we played good team basketball.” Storm guard Ralphy Holmes

For the Express, Mike Helms (23), Darren Duncan (22) and Chris Commons (12) were the top point-getters.

Two key game stats were the Storm outscored the Express 52-34 in the paint, and Summerside’s bench contributed 53 points compared to Windsor’s 28.

Overall, the Storm shot 35-for-93 from the field, including an 18-for-48 summary in the first half. The Express finished 34-for-87. Windsor shot 16-for-34 in the first 24 minutes.

Got feet wet

Holmes, who practised with the Storm for the first time on Wednesday, is looking forward to a full week of practice. The Storm’s next game is not until Friday, against Saint John at Eastlink Arena.

“I’m trying to soak up as much as I can,” said Holmes. “It’s going to be OK. I just have to take it day by day.”

Holmes says he needs to learn the Storm’s defensive systems.

“I’m just getting used to it, and we weren’t really doing the things we usually do,” said Holmes. “The coach was trying to get my feet wet, and we played some real basic defence. We have a week off to turn it up.”

Salerno liked what he saw from Holmes, and admitted his defensive play will only get better as he becomes more acclimatized with the team’s concepts.

“Ralphy is an impact player, he made some things happen out there at some key points,” said Salerno. “I think Ballard had 34 minutes, Plummer had 31 and Ralphy had 32, so I was pretty pleased that we found a good balance between those guys.

“Overall, I thought Ralphy played pretty well, and he’s only going to get better.”

Twitter.com/JpsportsJason

Organizations: Windsor Express, National Basketball League of Canada

Geographic location: Windsor, Saint John

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