© Photo special to The Guardian by Kâté Braydon/Telegraph-Journal
Antonio Ballard of the Island Storm makes a play for the basket with Jermaine Blackburn, left, and Doug Herring Jr. of the Saint John Mill Rats on him during the first half of action at Harbour Station Thursday night.
By Randy O’Donnell
SAINT JOHN — The Saint John Mill Rats regained first place in the Atlantic Division of the National Basketball League of Canada Thursday, downing the Island Storm 102-94.
It was the first time the Mill Rats had defeated the Storm on homecourt since Feb. 20 of last year.
Doug Herring led the way for Saint John, recording a double-double, with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Raheem Singleton, playing with a swollen right hand, added 18 for Saint John. Anthony Anderson also recorded a double-double, scoring 14 points and tearing down 13 rebounds from his guard position.
Antonio Ballard led the Storm in scoring with 23 points. He added 10 rebounds. Amani Daanish had 14 points while Steve Tchiengang registered 13.
With the win the Mill Rats improved to 12-9 while the Storm dropped to 11-9.
“You’re not going to stop Antonio Ballard. He got his 23 and 10 rebounds. But I told our guys that you can’t let the other guys get off, which they didn’t,” Mill Rats coach Rob Spon said after the game.
“. . . Our guys did a great job of closing out their other players.”
Saint John shot 47 per cent from the field while holding the Storm to 39 per cent. Saint John also out rebounded the club from Charlottetown, 53-44.
The Storm opened the game on fire. They led 32-22 after one quarter on the strength of 55 per cent shooting from the field and 50 per cent from beyond the three-point arc, sinking four of eight attempts. The Mill Rats shot 50 per cent from the field but only managed to connect on one of eight three-pointers.
The Mill Rats turned up the defensive intensity in the second quarter and closed the lead to four, 57-53, going into the break despite missing on all four attempts from beyond the three-point line. They did, however, manage to shoot 56 per cent from the field, 23-41. The Storm shot 19-40 from the field and 12-13 from the free-throw line.
The Mill Rats connected on six of their seven free-throw attempts.
In the third quarter the Mill Rats took their first lead of the game at the 9:40 mark on a three-pointer by Herring. Saint John led by three late before a three-pointer by Adrian Moss tied it at the buzzer, 77-77.
The fourth quarter saw the two teams going back and forth until Singleton ran off four straight points with under two minutes to play to give the Mill Rats a five-point lead, 94-89.
From there, Saint John closed it out from the free-throw line, connecting on six straight to end the game.
The Storm’s next game is in Moncton on Sunday.