UPDATE: Island Storm wins to advance to division final

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Halifax knocks off Saint John in other series

A balanced attack propelled the Island Storm to victory Sunday in Moncton.

Ten players scored, including five in double digits, in the Storm’s 104-88 victory over the Miracles in National Basketball League of Canada playoff action. The win clinched the best-of-five, first-round quarter-final for the Storm 3-1.

“It was a good team win,” coach Joe Salerno said. “We had a lot of guys contribute. Our bench was real big tonight.”

The trio of Ed Jones (18), Al Stewart (17) and Dwayne Smith (10) combined for 45 points off the bench.

The Storm also received 25 from Nick Okorie and 14 from Antonio Ballard, who added 10 boards.

The victory enabled the Storm to get the monkey off their back of winning in Moncton. They were 1-5 there this season before Sunday.

Salerno called the Moncton Coliseum “a hostile environment” in Friday’s two-point loss. He said there was a good contingency of Storm fans in the seats on Sunday.

“They were loud (and) they were extremely supportive,” Salerno said. “I know it meant a lot to the guys.”

Trayvon Lathan and Johnny Mayhane had 22 and 21 points, respectively, for Moncton. The Storm held quarter leads of 27-23, 50-41 and 75-62.

Salerno said defence was the key to the first-round victory, particular Okorie’s ability to keep Mayhane, one of the league’s top scorers, in check.

“Nick did a tremendous job,” the coach said.

Mayhane averaged 15 points a game during the series, five points below his season average. Salerno said Shawn Vanzant came off the bench to give Okorie a breather guarding Mayhane.

The Storm will play Halifax in the second round after the Rainmen knocked off the Atlantic Division champion Saint John Mill Rats 123-102 Sunday to win their series in four games.

Jason Williams led the way with 26 points while Brian Addison added 24 points and 14 rebounds. Anthony Anderson led Saint John with 42 points.

“We know we’re going to have our hands full with Halifax. They’re playing excellent basketball right now,” Salerno said. “We’re not taking them lightly at all.”

A schedule for the second round was not available Sunday night, but may be released today.

The Storm will have home-court advantage and will start the series at the Eastlink Centre, where it is 18-4 this season. The Storm won the season series with Halifax 7-3.

“They made a lot of moves like we did and they needed some time to gel and they’re certainly peaking at the right time,” Salerno said.

Series recap

A look at the first-round series between the Island Storm and Moncton Miracles.

March 3

Miracles 89 Storm 108

Wednesday

Miracles 105 Storm 128

Friday

Storm 95 Miracles 97

Sunday

Storm 104 Miracles 88

Organizations: National Basketball League of Canada

Geographic location: Saint John, Moncton

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