The Windsor Express are the National Basketball League of Canada champions.
Windsor defeated the Island Storm 121-106 in front of an announced crowd of 3,470 Thursday in Windsor, Ont. They erased a 3-1 series deficit to capture the title. It is the second year in a row the Storm has lost the league final.
"It’s tough to swallow,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “You’re up 3-1 in the series, you’re in total control. Once we didn’t get Game 5 on the Island, having to come back here for (games) 6 and 7, I knew it would be very difficult and it was.”
Windsor started Thursday’s game on a 9-0 run. The Storm got back into the game and had cut the lead to six early in the second quarter before the host team went on a 16-0 run to take a 51-29 lead.
The Express went to the break with a 64-41 lead and held a 94-63 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
Finals MVP Stefan Bonneau led the way for the Express with 32 points while Chris Commons had 20 and Quinnel Brown 19. Darren Duncan had 13 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds.
"Stef Bonneau was virtually unguardable tonight in the first half,” Salerno said. "He just hit tough shot after tough shot.”
The Storm was led by Nick Okorie's 30 points and eight assists. Charlottetown's Doug McKinney had 18 points late in the game on 7-for-8 shooting, including 4-for-4 from behind the three-point line. Antonio Ballard added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Salerno creditted the Express for earning the title.
“They were outstanding,” he said. “They certainly deserved to win this championship.”
Salerno said his message to his players after the game was about how they brought a high levle of basketball to P.E.I. this year.
“It’s a great group of guys and I couldn’t be prouder of them."
His other big message when talking to The Guardian was for the Storm's fans.
“The support we’ve had from the fans on the Island, on social media, on Twitter and Facebook, has been overwhelming. It’s been so outstanding and I’m just very proud to be part of this organization," Salerno said.
“We really wish we could have got this done for the fans on the Island and hopefully maybe next year we will.”
Here is a look at the series scores:
Express 122 Storm 100
Storm 104 Express 102
Storm 129 Express 104
Storm 104 Express 103
Express 113 Storm 111
Express 107 Storm 88
Express 121 Storm 106