“It was a bit of a rollercoaster,” assessed Storm head coach Joe Salerno.
It was a game of streaks as the Storm led after one quarter 41-31. The Rainmen fought back to take a 64-61 lead to the locker room at halftime. The teams entered the fourth period tied 91-91, but the Storm answered with their best quarter of the game, outscoring the Rainmen 42-31, for an 11-point win before 2,291 fans at Eastlink Arena. Overall, the Storm attracted 37,543 fans to their 20 regular-season home games.
The Storm completed the regular season on a club-record seven-game winning streak to finish at 26-14 (won-lost), good enough for the Atlantic Division championship and No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
The Storm will host the first two games of the best-of-five semifinal series against the Windsor Express on Sunday, March 24 (2 p.m.), and Tuesday, March 26 (7 p.m.). The series then returns to Windsor for Game 3 and Game 4, if necessary. A fifth game, if necessary, will be back in Summerside on April 2 at 7 p.m. The dates for the two games in Windsor have not yet been announced.
“They’re a tough team,” Salerno said about the Express. “But, if we keep playing the way we have been playing, this is six or seven in a row now, we control our destiny.”
Salerno gave his bench players an opportunity to show their talents, and they didn’t disappoint. Forward Doug McKinney of Charlottetown nailed three three-point shots in the final quarter to help the Storm to the win.
The star of the game for the Storm was recently-acquired guard Royce Parran, who recorded a triple-double – 23 points, 18 assists and 10 rebounds. It was only the second triple-double in Storm franchise history.
“I thought Royce Parran came in and really played well tonight (Saturday),” said Salerno.
“I think it was a real good way to finish a regular season. Everybody got minutes and everybody got to play, guys like McKinney and (Willy) Manigat and Nick Evans, it was great to see them (contribute). It just impressed me the team unity we showed. The guys are excited for everybody on the bench. The chemistry we‘ve had all season has been great, and I think we saw a lot of that tonight (Saturday).” - Storm head coach Joe Salerno
Overall, the Storm bench contributed 38 points to the win.
“I think it was a real good way to finish a regular season,” Salerno continued. “Everybody got minutes and everybody got to play, guys like McKinney and (Willy) Manigat and Nick Evans, it was great to see them (contribute).
“It just impressed me the team unity we showed. The guys are excited for everybody on the bench. The chemistry we‘ve had all season has been great, and I think we saw a lot of that tonight (Saturday).”
Antoine Tisby led the Storm with 27 points and 12 rebounds while Chris Cayole poured in 26 points and Josiah Turner added 18.
Joey Haywood had 26 points for the Rainmen (19-21).
The game had virtually no impact on the standings, but Salerno said it was an important win for them from another perspective.
“It was important because we wanted our bench guys to believe in themselves as well,” he said. “We sat down Brandon Robinson and Omari Johnson because I think it was important to show the guys that have been on the bench this season that they can play and they can contribute.
“It was important from a team-whole concept. It was a good win for us.”
Salerno acknowledged that while his team scored 133 points, he added they gave up 122.
“But it was that type of game,” he said. “It was up and down.
“I’m just so proud of this team. I’m proud of the guys. We had a great regular season going from 12-24 last season and missing the playoffs to 26-14 this year, winning the Atlantic Division.
“It’s been a really good season for us. We have a very deep team and I think we showed that tonight.”