SUMMERSIDE — When the Summerside Storm get hot they’re hard to stop, and they proved that on Friday night with the Montreal Jazz in town.
The Storm, who continues to create separation in the Atlantic Division of the National Basketball League of Canada, defeated the Jazz 123-106 to improve to 15-9 while extending their winning streak to six games. The Jazz, who had just eight players dressed, fell to 2-21.
The Storm is accustomed to hot starts, and this was no exception. Summerside jumped out in front 10-2 to force Montreal to call an early timeout.
Chris Cayole was hot early, hitting a three-point shot moments after checking into the game, and tied with Omari Johnson for a team-high 18 points before 1,711 fans at Eastlink Arena.
Cayole, who has been riddled with injuries in his two seasons with the Storm, looks to be rounding into form.
“It’s all about being patient with the recovery,” said Cayole. “I’m shooting well, guys are going to find me.
“If I can knock down one, more will follow. It’s all about waiting for the right opportunity.”
Cayole and the rest of the Storm went cold in the second quarter, losing their double digit lead, and at one point the Jazz tied the score 41-41.
Storm head coach Joe Salerno called a timeout when the game was all knotted up, and the tides began to turn when the players stepped back on the court. The Storm surged, and went on a run for a 58-46 halftime lead.
“We understood that we needed to get back to our original game plan, which was to push as much as possible,” said Salerno. “Any time we can get the ball out on transition, move up and down the floor quickly and make it an up-tempo game, we knew it would play into our hands.”
After the Jazz were outscored a whopping 39-9 in the third quarter in Moncton on Thursday night, Montreal’s coaching staff was aiming to win the third-quarter scoring battle. That goal wasn’t met as the Jazz was outscored by seven points, creating a sizeable margin of 19 points for Summerside.
Montreal finally did manage to win a quarter, but it was too little too late, and fell to 0-2 against the Storm this season.
Chris Hagan did all he could for his struggling team by contributing a 26-point effort.
The Storm’s Antonio Ballard continued to fill up the stat sheet with another double-double, scoring 12 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
Salerno, although pleased with the win, said that the Storm’s defence will have to improve before they play the Oshawa Power on Sunday.
“The guys gave a good effort tonight (Friday), we kept our focus tonight and didn’t underestimate the competition,” said Salerno. “Oshawa is a top-3 team in this league, it’s really going to be a tough game for us.”
The Power is in the midst of an Atlantic Division road trip that included a 123-117 win over Saint John on Friday night. Game time at Eastlink Arena on Sunday is 2 p.m.