Storm cruises to win

Storm dis­cov­ers new love of de­fence in sti­fling Mill Rats in 20-point vic­tory

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - THE GUARDIAN

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.

BRIAN MCINNIS/THE GUARDIAN

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.

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