A determined Island Storm squad defeated the Halifax Rainmen 114-105 Friday in a physical and feisty National Basketball League of Canada contest.
The win came a day after losing in Moncton to snap a six-game win streak.
“We were kind of mad about it,” Storm point guard Adrian Moss said. “We felt we should of won that game. We let one go. To . . . bounce back is huge.”
Moss did his part on Friday with 20 points, 13 assists and five rebounds in front of the home crowd at Eastlink Centre.
“For any point guard to score 23 points and dish out 13 assists, that’s definitely a big accomplishment,” said his partner in the backcourt Nick Okorie.
It was Okorie who propelled the Storm to an early lead with 12 first quarter points.
“I felt like we came out a little bit slow,” said Okorie, who finished with a team-high 27 points. “I had two really good looks and I was like, ‘I have to hit these.’ Once I hit those two I felt like I could get going a little bit and push our team ahead.”
Ed Jones picked up the ball in the second quarter and scored 10 of the Storm’s 22.
The Storm held quarter leads of 30-25, 52-49 and
The host squad appeared to pull away during a 70-second span in fourth quarter. Leading 85-81 Moss found Jones on an alley-oop, Steve Tchiengang found Moss for a layup and Moss hit a three to give the Storm a 92-83 lead.
But Halifax bounced right back, cutting the lead to four with five minutes to go.
“Halifax played great tonight,” Moss said. “You have to survive the other team’s runs.”
Storm coach Joe Salerno credited Halifax for giving the Storm all they could handle. He said the Rainmen’s top-five players are as good as any team’s in the league.
“Our depth really paid off tonight,” Salerno said.
He pointed to a stretch midway through the fourth when Antwi Atuahene, Moss, Dwayne Smith, Jones and Tchiengang gave the team valuable minutes together as a unit.
“They carried the load for us,” Salerno said. “The bench came up real big tonight.”
The Storm had 23 turnovers, but the coach said Halifax forced many of them.
“We weren’t real thrilled with how we played this game. It was certainly sloppy at times.”
The Storm’s leading scorer this season Antonio Ballard had 15 points and seven rebounds after playing 42 minutes in Thursday’s loss.
“Everybody has to step up. It can’t always be Tone and Nick every night,” Moss said.
“Tone is a marked man,” Salerno added. “Teams are getting more physical with him now.”
Many of the Storm players took time to get iced up after the game.
“Three games in four nights is tough,” Salerno said.
The team, while a little banged up, will be OK. The team is off until Tuesday’s rematch with the Rainmen at Eastlink Centre and is hoping to get point guard Al Stewart back for the Feb. 16 game in Halifax.
Guard Shawn Vanzant missed Friday’s game to attend a family funeral in Cleveland. He left Friday and will be back for Tuesday’s game.
Halifax Rainmen – 105
Island Storm – 114
Score by the quarters
Rainmen – 25-24-30-26
Storm – 30-22-28-34
Rainmen – Olumuyiwa Famutimi, 29; Jason Williams, 23.
Storm – Nick Okorie, 27; Adrian Moss, 20; Ed Jones, 19.
Rainmen – Tim Parham, 10.
Storm – Jeremy Williams, 8; Antonio Ballard, Steve Tchiengang, Antwi Atuahene, Bilal Dixon, 7.
Rainmen – Jujuan Cooley, 10
Storm – Adrian Moss, 13.
Rainmen – 39-89 (44 per cent)
Storm – 42-87 (48 per cent)
Rainmen – 9.
Storm – 23.
Rainmen – 6-25.
Storm – 18-14.
“Ed Jones had a great bounce back game tonight.”
“Nick came out hot as a pistol. That’s what Nick can do.”
Storm coach Joe Salerno
The Storm hosts Halifax Tuesday at 7 p.m.