CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Island Storm head coach Tim Kendrick had a simple message to Andre Stringer after Monday’s victory.
“Welcome back,” he told the point guard.
It came after Stringer scored 32 points on 11-for-13 shooting, including hitting all eight of his treys, in a 122-117 victory over the Saint John Riptide.
Stringer hadn’t scored double-digits since going for 22 in a 126-112 win over Cape Breton on Jan. 27. The Storm had lost the five games since.
Stringer pointed to repetition and putting in a lot of time before practices and games, as well as the work of his teammates on and off the court, for getting through the tough stretch.
“Throughout this whole time, they’ve been keeping me level-headed and keeping me super positive,” the captain said. “I grant everything tonight to them. They found me when I was open and I was able to knock some shots down.”
That’s putting it lightly.
He hit all six of his three-point attempts in the second half, including a deep shot with four minutes to play. He completed the rare four-point play at the free-throw line to make it a seven-point lead.
“It was a big momentum swing for us,” Stringer admitted.
And while his play with the ball in his hands was key to the win, Kendrick pointed to his work on the other end of the court.
“He defended hard. For us, we have to defend, we can’t give up easy basket after easy basket.”
The Storm improved to 11-16 while the Riptide falls to 13-12. It ended the Storm’s five-game losing streak and increased the Riptide’s slide to four.
“We got the win, we’ve been searching for one, and I think we can go on a run right here and that’s what we’re looking to do,” Stringer said.
One victory won’t make up for the 2-11 start to 2018 for the club, but it provides a chance for the team to exhale.
“It’s also important we celebrate this a little bit and are excited and happy,” Kendrick said. “You’ve got to have fun and lately we haven’t had a whole lot of fun.”
The team is healthier than it has been, but is still missing Brad States and Trenity Burdine. Sunday’s win never felt like a sure thing. Saint John led 36-32 after one quarter and 60-57 at the half, but went to the fourth down 90-85.
The Storm earned the victory and it took contributions up and down the roster to secure.
Franklin Session and Tyler Scott were key, particularly in the first half. Scott scored 17 of his 25 points in the first half and added nine rebounds during the game.
“Tyler Scott had his best game as a pro today,” Kendrick said. “We’ve been searching for a guy to come out and give us something extra. . . It energizes everybody because Tyler is a real well-liked teammate.”
Stringer said Scott’s outside shooting and rebounding were keys, as is his positive attitude and hard work.
While Du’Vaughn Maxwell didn’t shoot the ball well, going 3-for-16 from the field, he found other ways to contribute. He went 6-for-8 from the free-throw line, hauled in 13 boards, blocked four shots and contributed four dimes.
“He is so versatile and so vital to our team,” Stringer said. “He does the little things. Guys get beat off the dribble, he’s there to block shots, he rebounds, he switches off on tough guards.”
A Monday matinee is not a common game for professionals to play. Stringer said the great turnout provide a fun atmosphere to play in front of.
“I appreciate the fans for coming out on Islander Day. We know a lot of people have things to do,” he said.
A look at the statistics from Monday’s Island Storm-Saint John Riptide basketball game at the Eastlink Centre.
Riptide – 117
Storm – 122
Riptide – Horace Wormley 26, Jeremiah Mordi 23, Malcolm Miller 21, Brian Addison 14 and Aaron Redpath 12.
Storm – Andre Stringer 32, Tyler Scott 25, Franklin Session 18, Chris Johnson 13 and Du’Vaughn Maxwell 12.
Riptide – Tyquane Goard 9.
Storm – Du’Vaughn Maxwell 13.
Riptide – Horace Wormley 6.
Storm – Franklin Session 7.
Team shooting percentages
Riptide – 44 (40-for-91)
Storm – 46.5 (40-for-86)
Riptide – 42 (17-for-41)
Storm – 47 (15-for-32)
Riptide – 95 (20-for-21)
Storm – 75 (27-for-36)
Attendance – 2,502.
50/50 – 893.
Trade deadline – The league’s deadline closes at 12:59 a.m. Atlantic on Tuesday.