Storm ties NBL of Canada final series with Express

Jason Malloy
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Island Storm centre Steve Tchiengang, left, tries to slow down Windsor Express guard Darren Duncan as Storm point guard Adrian Moss chases the play Sunday in Windsor, Ont. Photo Special To The Guardian By The Windsor Star

The Island Storm erased an 18-point deficit to squeak out a 104-102 victory Sunday over the Windsor Express to tie the National Basketball League of Canada final 1-1.

The best-of-seven championship series moves to Charlottetown this week for the next three games.

“It was just a gutsy, character win,” Storm coach Joe Salerno said. “It would have been easy to fold and the guys just fought back.”

The Express built a 34-16 first quarter lead powered by 7-for-8 shooting from behind the three-point line.

Salerno said he told his team there was plenty of time left, to keep getting good looks and Windsor would be unable to continue to shoot the ball as well as they were.

The Storm opened the second quarter on a 5-0

run before, what Salerno called, the turning point occurred.

Storm point guard Al Stewart and Express forward Kevin Loiselle got tangled up about two minutes into the quarter. Both were assessed technical fouls on the play.

“Al, I think, just took it upon (himself) to show we’re not going to get shoved around tonight,” Salerno said. “We’re here to compete and win and that’s what a captain does.”

The Storm cut the deficit to eight (55-47) at halftime and scored the first eight points of the third to tie it.

The visitors built a 10-point lead with eight minutes to go in the fourth, but the Express refused to go away.

Stefan Bonneau, who finished with a game-high 34 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists, hit a couple of big shots to bring his team back.

“He’s just such a dangerous player. He hit a lot of big shots when they were down 10,” Salerno said. “They’re a tough ball club and they have a lot of weapons.”

The coach was pleased with how the Storm responded to the Express’ run.

With 3:37 to play in the game, Jeremy Williams was inserted for defensive reasons to help guard Chris Commons. With 20 seconds to play, and the Storm clinging to a one-point lead, Williams came up with the key block on DeAndre Thomas to help seal the win.

Nick Okorie split two free throws to give the Storm a two-point lead and Loiselle missed a shot to tie it with two seconds to play.

“Our depth really paid off tonight,” Salerno said.

Okorie led the team with 31 points. He was 1-for-9 on three-point shots, but 16-for-18 from the charity stripe.

Ed Jones led the Storm with 15 first half points, including going 6-for-6 from downtown. He finished with 22 while Casey Love had 10 points off the bench.

Adrian Moss had 10 points, eight rebounds

and six assists.

Salerno said the team is excited to get back to Charlottetown, where it is 20-5 this season.

Game 3 is Wednesday, followed by games Friday and Saturday. Game times are 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the Eastlink Centre Box Office daily starting at 11 a.m.

The Storm was scheduled to fly out of Toronto today and practise Tuesday.

 

All-stars

The league said Sunday it would announce the players who will participate in this year’s all-star game today. The all-star game will be played on April 20 at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.

****

Series Recap/Schedule

Game 1

Storm 100 at Express 122

Game 2

Storm 104 at Express 102

Game 3

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Express at Storm

Game 4

Friday, 7 p.m.

Express at Storm

Game 5*

Saturday, 7 p.m.

Express at Storm

Game 6*

April 15, 7 p.m.

Storm at Express

Game 7*

April 17, 7 p.m.

Storm at Express

* - If required

******

Highlight Reel

Score

Storm – 104.

Express – 102.

Score by the quarter

Storm –       16    31    33    24

Express –  34    21      20    27

Top scorers

Storm – Nick Okorie 31, Ed Jones 22, Casey Love 10 and Adrian Moss 10.

Express – Stefan Bonneau 34, Chris Commons 21 and Darren Duncan 15.

Rebound leaders

Storm – Ballard 10, Steve Tchiengang 9, Jones 8 and Moss 8.

Express – DeAndre Thomas 9, Bonneau 8 and Quinnel Brown 7.

Assist leaders

Storm – Moss 6 and Okorie 6.

Express – Bonneau 8 and Duncan 6.

Team stats

Field goal percentage:

Storm – 39 (34-87).

Express – 43 (35-81).

Three-point percentage:

Storm – 35 (9-26).

Express – 45 (13-29).

Free-throw percentage:

Storm – 82 (27-33).

Express – 58 (19-33).

Bench scoring:

Storm – 37.

Express – 18.

Organizations: National Basketball League of Canada, Eastlink Centre Box Office

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Toronto

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