Island Storm Amani Daanish takes a shot over Saint John Mill Rats Alex Jackson Saturday during opening night action of the National Basketball League of Canada in Charlottetown.
The Island Storm wanted an explosive start and got it, and not just from the pre-game pyrotechnics, in a 100-93 win over the Saint John Mill Rats on Saturday at Eastlink Centre.
Antonio Ballard and Greg Plummer led the Storm charge with game highs in points (22) and paced the National Basketball League of Canada squad to its third straight home-opening win and first in its new digs in Charlottetown.
But it didn't come easy.
Saint John was down 20 points in the third quarter, but whittled away and cut the lead to 96-93 late in the fourth.
But two free throws by guard Al Stewart with 29 seconds remaining were enough to salt away the game.
"There's alway going to be runs in basketball. We happened to make one in the second quarter. Time was on our side," said Ballard, who had a game-high 11 rebounds. "We rebounded pretty well tonight, and getting it inside to our big guys."
Saint John (1-1) had a 29-27 lead after the first quarter thanks to eight points and good floor generalship by guard Anthony Anderson, who finished with a team-high 16 points.
Then in the second, the Storm went on a 26-17 run spurred by Ballard's eight points and stout team defending.
"Basically, we weren't playing defence (in the first quarter) as a unit, as we know we can," said Ballard. "(We were) more communicative (in the second) and helped on defence. We crashed really well tonight and our communication and rebounding really helped us."
Stewart led the Storm with 11 assists and chipped in 10 points. Derek Coleman drained 16 points including 4-of-6 from the three-point line, while Amani Daanish grabbed nine boards.
Tyrone Levett had 13 points for Saint John. Teammates Jermaine Blackburn and Alex Jackson each chipped in 12 points.
Modibo Diarra had a team-high 10 rebounds for Saint John.
The Storm (1-0) host the Moncton Miracles Sunday at Eastlink Centre. Game time is 2 p.m.
A look at Saturday’s National Basketball League of Canada game at Eastlink Centre:
The Outcome - Island Storm 100 Saint John 93
Top Three Scorers - Saint John: Anthony Anderson, 16, Tyrone Levett, 13, Jermaine Blackburn, 12; Island Storm - Antonio Ballard, 22, Greg Plummer, 22, Derek Coleman, 16 points.
Top Three Rebounders - Saint John: Modibo Diarra, 10, Will Blalock 7, Ashton Smith, 4; Island Storm: Antonia Ballard, 11, Amani Daanish, 9, Antoine Tisby, 6.
Three-Point Shooter - Saint John: Tyrone Levett, 3-for-3; Island Storm: Derek Coleman, 4-for-6.
Most Assists - Saint John: Will Blalock, 7; Island Storm: Al Stewart, 11.
Free Throws - Saint John: Anthony Anderson, 4-for-4; Island Storm: Al Stewart, 6-of-6.
Attendance - 2,564 announced.
Next Up - The Island Storm (1-0) host the Moncton Miracles (0-1) Sunday at Eastlink Centre. Game time is 2 p.m.
By The Numbers
Field Goal Shooting - Saint John: 47 per cent, 35-of-75; Island Storm: 44 per cent, 34-of-78.
Three-Point Shooting - Saint John: 43 per cent, 9-of-21; Island Storm: 50 per cent, 10-of-20.
Free Throw Shooting - Saint John: 78 per cent, 14-of-18; Island Storm: 71 per cent, 22-of-31.
Turnovers - Saint John: 19; Island Storm: 21.
Points Off Turnovers - Saint John, 15; Island Storm: 23.
50-50 Draw - $900.