© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Antonio Ballard splits the defence during Tuesday’s National Basketball League of Canada game at Eastlink Centre.
It’s a first-place showdown tonight in Saint John, N.B.
The Island Storm (11-8) holds a half-game lead over the Saint John Mill Rats (11-9) in the National Basketball League of Canada’s Atlantic Division. Game time is 7 p.m. at Harbour Station.
Perimeter defence will be key for the Storm.
“They have more shooters on their roster than anybody else in the league,” Storm coach Joe Salerno said Wednesday. “You have to limit their possessions, you can’t give them free ones.”
Tonight’s contest will be the squads’ sixth meeting of the season with the Storm holding a 4-1 series lead.
Antonio Ballard leads the Storm at 21 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Al Stewart is averaging 6.3 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
Anthony Anderson leads the Mill Rats in points (23.5) and assists (6.2) per game while Tyrone Levett averages 6.9 rebounds and Doug Herring Jr. two steals a game.
Anderson is 0.15 points per game behind Windsor’s Stefan Bonneau for the scoring lead.
“If Anthony Anderson is going to get his 25, 30 that’s fine, we have to make sure we do a good job on the other guys,” Salerno said.
The Mill Rats lost 100-90 to
the Moncton Miracles on Tuesday night while the Storm defeated the Halifax Rainmen 107-95 in front of 1,407 fans at the Eastlink Centre.
While pleased the Storm bounced back from two losses in Moncton last weekend, coach Joe Salerno was concerned with the number of turnovers in the sloppy contest.
“I think there were a lot of times that we were on a nice run and then we’d go three or four possessions with unforced turnovers and just opened the door for them,” he said.
“For us to try to take the next step up in this league this season, we have to take care of the basketball.”
Forward Jeremy Williams led the Storm with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was a confidence builder. We needed this game and we all knew that,” he said. “We came out ready today.”
Ballard had 22 points and nine rebounds while Greg Plummer scored 15 and Stewart 14.
Adrian Moss had five points, seven assists and four steals.
Jujuan Cooley had 24 points to lead the Rainmen while Olumuyiwa Famutimi added 21.
Williams said he was pleased to be able to help the team to victory.
He grabbed a defensive rebound and made a three-pointer in the first minute to spark his confidence and lead him to a statement game.
“I feel like I work hard enough in the gym to accomplish these things on a consistent basis,” he said. “The only thing was to actually just go out there and do it, instead of thinking about doing it.”
Now he wants to ensure it becomes the norm and knows that will take a lot of work in the gym and attention to detail.
Stratford’s Debbie Forse was the winner of the Storm Kids Dream Home Lottery’s $400,000 home drawn for in the fourth quarter.
The project, sponsored by Sherwood BMR, raised funds for four Island charities including KidsSport P.E.I., Easter Seals of P.E.I., the maternal child care unit of the Prince County Hospital, and the pediatric unit
of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Head To Head
A look at the meetings this season between the Island Storm and the Saint John Mill Rats.
Mill Rats 93 at Storm 100
Storm 129 at Mill Rats 93
Mill Rats 117 at Storm 90
Mill Rats 103 at Storm 106
Storm 100 at Mill Rats 96