The first-place Storm defeated their Atlantic Division rivals by 45 points – 135-90 – on Friday night to advance to 17-10 (won-lost). Halifax dropped to 13-15.
After 1,353 fans, which was the lowest attendance in franchise history, braved the bitterly cold temperatures for Thursday’s game, 1,816 spectators were on hand to cheer the Storm to their most lopsided victory of the year.
Getting to the free-throw line 10 times created an early advantage for the home team. By the end of the first quarter, Summerside was working on a run and led 32-25.
The wheels came off early and quickly for the Rainmen in the second quarter. The Storm went on a shooting spree, ringing up 12 field goals in the period, to accompany another 10 free-throw attempts as Summerside built a 26-point halftime lead – 69-43 – and carried that momentum over to the second half.
“It’s been a point of emphasis for us to lock in and play 48 minutes every time we step on the court,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “We have to be mentally tougher when a team makes a run.
“I thought we overcame that problem against London when they pushed the game within four points. We stuck with our game and didn’t back down.”
Another area of concern for Summerside has been its third-quarter play. However, there wasn’t much to worry about this time.
Omari Johnson came out of halftime hot, dropping two quick threes to add to his game-high 24 points.
“My teammates were driving and kicked it out to me for easy looks,” said Johnson.
“My teammates were driving and kicked it out to me for easy looks." - Storm power forward Omari Johnson
Behind Johnson’s 24 points, the Storm had five other players in double figures – Brandon Robinson (23), Antonio Ballard (14), Al Stewart (13), Louis Birdsong Jr. (11) and Doug McKinney (10).
Josiah Turner also fared well in his second game with the Storm, posting 10 assists and seven points.
Antoine Tisby was Halifax’s top scorer with 16 points.
Johnson is optimistic about the team’s future, saying they are capable of this level of intensity and style of play on a regular basis as the Storm outscored the Rainmen 39-25 and 27-22 in the final two quarters.
“Our defence was awful,” said Rainmen head coach Rob Spon. “We can’t look at our offence as a problem because it wasn’t. We allowed them to take and make warm-up shots all night.”
At one point in the final quarter, the Storm lead reached 50 points.
“Up 40 or tied up, we still want to play the same way,” said Salerno. “If we sustain a high level of play the whole game we’re really though to beat.”
Meet again Sunday
Halifax will look for redemption on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Storm travels to the Metro Centre for the back end of a home-and-home series.
Salerno is expecting a much different team than the one the Storm faced Friday. Spon said much of the same, saying he’s confident his team will play better at home.