The Island squad defeated Newfoundland and Labrador 70-66 and now plays Quebec, who pounded the Northwest Territories 124-47, on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Atlantic.
“That locker room feels pretty good right now and the reason why is because it was a 12-player effort,” said head coach Reagh Vidito. “In a game where you face adversity, it’s really nice to have those opportunities to have a team win.”
Adam Ryan led the way with 23 points while Yousef Sefau scored 16 and added six steals. John Alex Vos had 10 points and 14 rebounds while Parker Roche hauled in 10 boards to go with five points.
“It’s huge. We really wanted the first one,” Ryan said of getting the victory. “Now we’re really excited for the next one.”
P.E.I. came out of the gate strong, building a 23-6 lead using strong defensive, good rebounding and lots of energy.
They were up 27-16 after one quarter, but Newfoundland responded and led 31-30 with 3:44 to play in the half. They increased the advantage to 35-31 at the break.
Vidito credited their Atlantic counterparts for their effort.
“Newfoundland is a fantastic team, Blair (White) is a fantastic coach and I knew they would keep come,” he said.
But Ryan hit a three in the second half and P.E.I. went on a little run, retaking the lead and putting a victory in the win column.
“That’s what the tournament is going to be like,” Ryan said. “Every team here can play, so we just have to be rebound whenever they’re playing well.”
P.E.I. remained positive and confident even when Newfoundland was making their run. Vidito said it is a product of the guys playing together for a long time.
“We’ve built trust,” he said.
Prince Edward Island was able to win the game despite Sefau coming out of the contest late with a bad cramp and MacCallum falling hard on his wrist and also dealing with a thigh bruise. Both are expected to play today.
The Island team’s depth showed with two of their players out of the lineup.
“We have guys that can really take over and be that guy and Adam Ryan, I thought, late in the game when Logan and Yousef, two primary ball handers, went down, I knew that we had kind of an ace up our sleeve,” Vidito said.
He also commended the veteran leadership Sefau and Ryan have provided the squad as overage players.
“I challenged them from Day 1 to be leaders and they’ve been nothing but fantastic.”