It took five periods to decide a winner before the Storm emerged with a 123-118 overtime win in the highly entertaining National Basketball League of Canada game before 1,826 fans at Eastlink Arena on Thursday night.
The game did not have any meaning on the standings as the Lightning, with a 33-7 (won-lost) record, will go into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.
After clinching the Atlantic Division with a win against Oshawa last Friday, the Storm was playing for confidence more than anything else as they are locked into the No. 2 seed for the upcoming playoffs.
The Storm’s record improved to 25-14 with the win, more then doubling last season’s win total. Summerside also won three of four meetings against London this season.
“We played this game like any other,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “They all matter to us. When the top team comes to your building it’s nice to play like you want it more than them.”
London’s Marvin Phillips scored 16 points in the opening quarter to lead the Lightning to a 31-26 lead after 12 minutes. London started the second quarter hot and the Storm quickly found themselves down by eight points.
The Storm, sparked by the bench play of Royce Parran and Antoine Tisby, went on a run in the final minutes of the first half, which ended with the Lightning up 48-47.
The Storm, led by Brandon Robinson’s 15 points in the third quarter, outscored London 37-26 to take a 84-74 lead into the fourth.
The Storm went on to build a 14-point lead at one point, but the resilient Lightning got right back in the game in the final minutes. Back-to-back three-pointers gave London a brief lead, but Josiah Turner hit two clutch free throws to bring the Storm even. Regulation time ended on a final-shot attempt by London that was off the mark, which sent the game into overtime tied 105-105.
“We played this game like any other. They all matter to us. When the top team comes to your building it’s nice to play like you want it more than them.” - Storm head coach Joe Salerno
Summerside went on a tear in overtime, scoring 18 points in only five minutes of play. Turner was the difference in the game, assessed Salerno. Turner scored six points in the final frame while holding down the starting point guard spot where Al Stewart use to operate at the end of games before returning home to Chicago early this week.
“It’s a great honour to be here and to have a big role on this team,” said Turner. “I’ve learned a lot watching Al the last few months, I think I’m ready to fill this role.
“Games like these are huge for confidence. Now going forward we feel like we can do anything.”
Robinson finished with 36 points and 11 rebounds while Turner and Omari Johnson both sank 23.
Phillips led the Lightning with 32 points and 11 rebounds, and Elvin Mims added 19.
Salerno assessed his team’s play against London: “We didn’t play our best basketball, but we played hard. London can beat us on any giving night, so we will never underestimate them. But winning this one should really make the guys feel good.”
London coach Michael Ray Richardson, who refused to speak with media after the game, but was visibly frustrated with his team’s performance to end the game.
The Storm will conclude the regular season with a home game against the Halifax Rainmen on Saturday. Game time at Eastlink Arena is 7 p.m.