Storm responds to Miracles third-quarter run with strong fourth quarter
The Island Storm is a win away from advancing to the second round of the National Basketball League of Canada playoffs.
The Storm outscored the Moncton Miracles by 18 in the fourth quarter Wednesday to earn a 128-105 victory and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five quarter-final.
The Miracles had cut an 11-point deficit at halftime to five to start the final period. The Storm responded by scoring the first seven points, 71 seconds into the fourth, and never let Moncton back in the game.
“It was our turn to punch back,” Storm coach Joe Salerno said. “We did that and it started on the defensive end. I thought we were pretty good tonight turning defence into offence.”
Hometown boy Doug McKinney started the fourth with a dunk 12 seconds in.
“Al Stewart hit me with a nice pass,” McKinney explained. “I couldn’t miss that one or I’d never hear the end of it.”
Nick Okorie followed with a bucket and Jeremy Williams nailed a three-pointer as the Storm increased the lead to 94-82.
“We weren’t on the same page and they knocked down a lot of shots,” said Moncton centre Sylvania Watkins.
Steve Tchiengang led the Storm with 18 points in the first half.
“He was real big,” Salerno said, noting the team’s emphasis was to establish the inside game early.
Tchiengang, who ran into foul trouble later, ended the game with 22 points and seven rebounds.
Williams and Antonio Ballard led the Storm with 25 points each while Trayvon Lathan had a game-high 30 points for the Miracles.
The series now shifts to Moncton for Friday’s Game 3 at 7 p.m. and Game 4, if necessary, Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Storm knows closing out the series will not be simple.
“It’s going to be a hostile environment,” McKinney said.
Salerno added it would be like going into a “hornet’s nest.”
“The Coliseum has been the toughest place for us to play this season,” he said, noting the team was 1-4 there during the regular season. “Moncton now is playing for their lives.”
Salerno said the Storm has to have a business approach and match the Miracles intensity.
Miracles – 105
Storm – 128
Score by the quarter
Miracles – 21 26 35 23
Storm – 27 31 29 41
Miracles – Trayvon Lathan, 30; Cordell Jeanty, 13; Johnny Mayhane, 12; Oliver McNally, 12; Jermaine Dailey, 11; and Travis George, 10.
Storm – Antonio Ballard, 25; Jeremy Williams, 25; Steve Tchiengang, 22; Nick Okorie, 21; and Al Stewart, 10.
Miracles – Dailey, 7.
Storm – Ballard, 16; and Williams, 10.
Miracles – McNally, 10.
Storm – Okorie, 8.
Field goal percentage
Miracles – 41.5 (39-94).
Storm – 54 (49-90).
Miracles – 39 (9-23).
Storm – 44 (11-25).
Miracles – 64.3 (18-28).
Storm – 95 (19-20).
Miracles – 42.
Storm – 61.
Miracles – 16.
Storm – 21.
Miracles – 48.
Storm – 26.
Attendance – 1,275.