Light­ning can’t turn the tide

Coach, team ‘have to fig­ure out how to be bet­ter’

The London Free Press - - SPORTS - PAUL VANDERHOEVEN

Coach El­liott Ether­ing­ton was at his wit’s end af­ter the Lon­don Light­ning dropped their third straight game, fall­ing 107-98 to the Saint John Rip­tide on Sun­day at Bud­weiser Gar­dens.

The ex­as­per­ated coach in­creas­ingly is grow­ing tired of ex­plain­ing how the Light­ning keep los­ing in the same way.

The Bolts (8-11), who are in last place in the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League of Canada’s Cen­tral Di­vi­sion, lost their pre­vi­ous two games in over­time, 122-119 Satur­day night to the Ex­press in Wind­sor and 129-122 to the Cape Bre­ton High­landers on Thurs­day in Lon­don.

In all three losses, the Light­ning have fallen be­hind more than once, caught up and then failed to put the win away down the stretch.

The Light­ning trailed the Rip­tide 89-80 with about 7:30 left in the game, but cut that lead to 101-98. Mau­rice Bolden missed a three­p­ointer with about a minute left and Saint John scored on the turnover to seal the win, just their fifth in 17 games this sea­son.

It’s those fail­ures to fin­ish and re­cur­ring lapses in fo­cus that are in­fu­ri­at­ing for the rookie coach.

“I feel like I’m re­peat­ing my­self and that’s what’s get­ting an­noy­ing,” Ether­ing­ton said. “We keep talk­ing about the same things and we keep mak­ing the same mis­takes and that’s true for ev­ery­body across the board.

“We shoot our­selves in the foot too of­ten. That’s been our prob­lem all year and we have to fix it.”

The Rip­tide went on a 12-0 run to take a 36-25 lead about four min­utes into the sec­ond quar­ter, but the Light­ning pushed back to cut Saint John’s ad­van­tage to 49-48 at the half.

Ether­ing­ton shoul­dered the blame for the Light­ning’s strug­gles and added he has to do bet­ter at hold­ing play­ers ac­count­able.

“I’m not do­ing a good job, that’s for sure,” he said. “I have to fig­ure out how to be bet­ter. It’s that sim­ple.

“I’m look­ing at my­self in the mir­ror, say­ing the same damn thing. I keep mess­ing up fourth quar­ters. We have to fix that. I don’t know how we are go­ing to do that be­cause we know what the prob­lem is.

“We’ve been talk­ing about it for awhile; we just have to do it.”

Veteran for­ward Kirk Wil­liams Jr., who led the Light­ning with 22 points off the bench, said the prob­lems are ob­vi­ous.

“Some­times in the game, it looks like we are not work­ing hard,” he said “We are get­ting out­re­bounded and we’re just not play­ing to­gether. Ev­ery­body sees it.”

Wil­liams said it is en­cour­ag­ing that the Light­ning have shown they can come back from big deficits, how­ever, and he sees things im­prov­ing once Gar­rett Williamson and Kevin Ware are healed and back in the lineup.

“We’ll fig­ure it out,” he said. “That’s what you have to do — keep go­ing back to the draw­ing board and see what works for us — be­cause some­thing’s not work­ing for us and we’ve got to find out what that is.”

Veteran for­ward Marvin Phillips said the worst thing the Bolts can do is to let frus­tra­tion get the best of them.

“No­body wants to lose, but I’m still 100 per cent con­fi­dent and I fully be­lieve in this team and the play­ers on this team . . . the coach in­cluded,” he said.“We are a pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball team and we will bounce back. It looks ugly right now, but we all truly be­lieve we have the tal­ent to do so. We just need to do it.”

Frank Bart­ley led the Rip­tide with 26 points, TJ Mas­ton had 24, Chris Early 14 and Jeremiah Mordi and Kemy Osse had 13.

Bolden fin­ished with 18 points and six blocks for the Light­ning. Jaylen Babb-Har­ri­son had 16, Xavier Moon 15 and 10 re­bounds, and AJ Gaines had 12 points.

The Bolts travel to Kitch­ener-Water­loo to take on the Ti­tans Thurs­day at 7 p.m.

MIKE HENSEN/THE LON­DON FREE PRESS

Marvin Bin­ney of the Saint John Rip­tide hauls in a re­bound over Lon­don Light­ning for­ward Marvin Phillips dur­ing their Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League of Canada game at Bud­weiser Gar­dens on Sun­day af­ter­noon. The Light­ning fell 107-98.

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