The Storm defeated the Oshawa Power 105–100 in front of 2,106 fans at Eastlink Arena to secure the No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs, and a bye into the semifinals.
“Getting this win was big, it hasn’t even hit me yet,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “We won a very tough division.
“When a team gets a chance to make that happen, you have to produce.”
The win improved the Storm’s record to 23-14 (won-lost) while Oshawa, which is in danger of missing the playoffs, fell to 18-19.
The first quarter was a rocky one as the teams combined for 10 turnovers that led to several fast breaks. But it was the three-point shot that gave Oshawa an early edge. The Power, who shot 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, led 29-25 after one quarter.
Building on his eight first-quarter points, Brandon Robinson scored 13 in the second frame and helped Summerside end the first half on a strong note to go into halftime only down three points.
“It was one of those games where shots that don’t normally go down hit the hoop,” said Robinson. “I credit my teammates for getting me open looks, and giving me the chance to score points.
“When we play pass-first basketball, we are hard to beat, that’s for sure.”
The Storm continued their excellent third-quarter play of late as they outscored the Power by six points.
“They’re a good team that has had us beat many times before,” said Salerno. “We played what was working, and that makes everything else open up from there.”
The table was set for a great finish, and the Storm had an upper hand with a 77-74 lead going into the final quarter.
Nick Okorie scored 14 fourth-quarter points, giving Power the lead at several points. But it was the Storm’s resilience and willingness to pass the ball to the open man that keyed the win.
Robinson and Johnson were clutch in the fourth quarter as they combined for 19 points.
Robinson scored 35 points overall, and added six rebounds, six assists and six steals while Johnson had 34 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
Okorie sank 34 points to lead Oshawa.
Once again the Storm’s depth played a big role as Summerside’s bench outscored Oshawa’s by 20 points – 49-29.
Power coach Larry Blunt is now focusing on Saturday’s important game in Halifax.
“We came here, played well, but couldn’t seal the deal,” said Blunt. “The guys are a little down, but we have to put it behind us and look at what’s next. The game in Halifax could determine our season.”
Halifax will visit the Storm on Sunday. The opening tip-off at Eastlink Arena is 2 p.m.
“We’re playing so well right now, just because we clinched doesn’t mean we’re going to stop going hard,” said Salerno. “We will keep playing our style and see what happens Sunday.”
It will also mark veteran point guard Al Stewart’s final game with the Storm. Stewart is returning to his hometown of Chicago to accept a full-time teaching position.
The Storm has named Sunday ‘Al Stewart Day.’