Storm cruises to win
Storm discovers new love of defence in stifling Mill Rats in 20-point victory
The Island Storm cruised to a 108-88 victory over the Saint John Mill Rats.
Message sent, message received.
Island Storm head coach Joe Salerno switched up his lineup from Saturday’s 16-point loss to the Saint John Mills Rats in Saint John, N.B., and told his crew in clear terms play better defence against the Mill Rats on Sunday in Charlottetown or you sit.
And players responded with a 108-88 victory courtesy of an stifling defence that fuelled a 14-0 first-quarter run from which Saint John never recovered.
Storm forward Terry Thomas got Salerno’s message Sunday at Eastlink Centre. He drained a game-high 21 points, grabbed five rebounds and added two steals after a two-point, nosteal, no-rebound effort Saturday.
“Defence was the main priority, taking pride in it. Coach basically said ‘If you’re not playing defence you’re not playing,’ “said Thomas, an East Preston, N.S., native. “We didn’t have any heart the last few games.”
It was a welcome result for the Storm, ranked seventh in the eight-team National Basketball League of Canada defensively surrendering 115 points per game before Saturday’s game. It’s helped account for the squad’s 3-5, fourth-place record in the Atlantic Division.
Saint John didn’t score until seven minutes into the first quarter and finished on the wrong end of a 31-18 tally after 12 minutes.
The Mills Rats regrouped in the second quarter, heated up and cut the lead to 36-30 just past the midway mark.
But the Storm responded with a 22-3 run and closed the half leading 58-33.
From there the Mills Rats never got closer than 14 points during the next 24 minutes.
Better still, all the grittiness had the benefit of easier scores and favourable offensive matchups, which Thomas said, the Storm nabbed whenever it could.
“That’s a bonus. We get stops and we get out running. We’re a transition team with a great bench.”
Jean-Richard Volcy and Darren Moore led Saint John with 20 and 14 points, respectively, but for Salerno the defence’s crowning achievement was shutting down Doug Herring, who went for 30 points Saturday, and Anthony Anderson, one of the NBL’s perennial scoring leaders.
“We held their two big guns to six points. People don’t realize there are too many good teams to hold to 88 points every night, (but) a game like this can give our guys the confidence they’re capable of defending like this,” said Salerno, who went with Andre Malone and Brian Addison in Sunday’s starting lineup. “I thought Terry Thomas was outstanding off the bench and Malone was good, too. We went with a more defensiveminded lineup. We tried to set a tone and the rest of the guys responded.”
The victory was Salerno’s 100th NBL win, all with the Storm.
Nick Evens finished with 16 points and game highs in rebounds (18) and assists (6) for the Storm, while Rashad Whack chipped in 15 points and Malone added 13 points and nine rebounds. Addison nabbed nine rebounds.
Volcy (12) and Moore (11) led Saint John in rebounds.
Next up, the Storm host the Windsor Express on Friday. Game time is 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
Island Storm guard Rashad Whack, centre, goes up for the shot past Darren Moore, of the Saint John Mill Rats, during National Basketball League of Canada action Sunday in Charlottetown. The Storm cruised to a 108-88 win.