Tim Kendrick had a message for his Island Storm shooters at halftime of Thursday’s game with the Moncton Magic.
His team had just gone 1-for-13 behind the three-point line, but only trailed 55-53. The rookie pro coach went around the dressing room and instilled confidence in his players.
“One of the greatest shooters I’ve seen. One of the greatest shooters I’ve seen,” he said he told his guys. “I’m telling you, there’s no way that we’re going to shoot like that in the second half.”
They responded, going 5-for-8 from downtown in the third quarter and 3-for-7 in the final 12 minutes en route to a 120-116 win— the first pro victory for Kendrick.
“It’s great to get a win for our team,” he said. “I thought our guys have been really working hard and playing hard, and we’ve had a little bit of adversity already.”
The Storm took a 91-82 lead to the fourth, but the Magic refused to go away.
“They hit some big shots,” said Magic guard Terry Thomas, who played the past two seasons with the Storm and became a fan favourite. “Their fan base, the crowd in here, which I loved, helped them out and took them straight through and they rode with that.”
Thomas was one of four former Storm players wearing the Magic uniform for head coach Joe Salerno, who had been the Storm bench boss for the franchise’s first six seasons.
“It's a different feeling,” Thomas said. “It was a tough game to play. I love the fans, I loved being here and just to be on the other side, to fight against it, words can’t describe how tough it was.”
Storm guard Chris Johnson was in the middle of a number of big plays during the second half. He hit a big trey and knocked down two free throws with six seconds remaining to ice the game, but it was a pass that may have saved the game.
With the Storm up three with about 20 seconds to play, the Magic had him trapped in front of the scorer’s table when he spotted centre Zach Valliere alone under the basket for a dunk.
“It’s just about being composed,” Johnson said. “I know that they’re trapping, and that’s the least expected pass.”
It didn’t surprise his coach.
“Chris Johnson is solid in every way,” he said. “He does it all the time. I know we’re early in the season, but I’ve seen him do it before.”
Johnson said it was nice to get the team’s first win of the season and Kendrick’s initial pro victory.
“It gets the monkey off our back, especially after losing a tough one last week, so this one makes up for it,” he said, noting both he and his coach are from Nova Scotia.
“Tim Kendrick is a legend to me. I look up to him like people do Phil Jackson.”
And while the Magic fall to 0-2 there’s no panic.
“There’s a lot of positives that we see, little pieces we can put together,” Thomas said. “We understand what we need to work on. . .
“We’re all bought in and we’re going to trust the process.”
Both of the Storm (1-1) games this season have gone down to the final possession.
Can it continue all season?
“I don’t know, I’d like to get one by 10 or 12 someday, but . . . the league is so strong, every team is so good,” Kendrick said, “so I think it’s going to be that kind of league.”
A look at some of the statistics from Thursday’s National Basketball League of Canada game between the host Island Storm and the Moncton Magic.
Score by the quarter
Magic 35 20 27 34 — 116
Storm 29 24 38 29 — 120
Magic – Anthony Anderson 25, Terry Thomas 23, Jeremy Williams 17, Tirrell Baines 14, Al Stewart 11 and Corey Almond 11.
Storm – Franklin Session 24, Du’Vaughn Maxwell 24, Chris Johnson 20, Andre Stringer 16 and Tyler Scott 15.
Magic – Terry Thomas 11 and Tirrell Baines 9.
Storm – Du’Vaughn Maxwell 14 and Franklin Session 6.
Magic – Anthony Anderson 7 and Al Stewart 7.
Storm – Andre Stringer 7 and Franklin Session 5.
Magic – 45.9 (39-for-85)
Storm – 47.7 (42-for-88)
Magic – 32 (8-for-25)
Storm – 32.1 (9-for-28)
Magic – 78.9 (30-for-38)
Storm – 90 (27-for-30)
Attendance – 1,964.
Up next – The teams play again Saturday, this time in Moncton at 7 p.m.
Did you know? Forward Dut Dut became the 100th player to play for the Storm when he checked in to Thursday’s contest