CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The undermanned Island Storm ran out of gas Saturday night and was eliminated from the playoffs by the Halifax Hurricanes.
The three-time defending Atlantic Conference champs broke open a close game with a second-quarter run that increased their lead from eight to 19 in a five-minute stretch.
The Storm attempted to close the gap, but the Hurricanes had an answer each time en route to a 120-103 victory. It was the Hurricanes third straight win to clinch the best-of-five series 3-1.
“They’re very tough. They’re the No. 1 team in the league for a reason,” Storm guard Franklin Session said. “They get up on you six or seven points and they’re going to make you play the whole shot clock.”
He said the Hurricanes have the best offensive rebounding big guys he’s seen in a while, which provides them with second-chance opportunities.
“I thought we battled hard. We’re kind of ran out of gas a little bit,” acknowledged Storm bench boss Tim Kendrick.
The team was besieged by injuries for much of the season and the squad decided to release two players after the roster freeze, leaving them with a 10-man roster.
The impact showed on Saturday when the Storm’s bench was outscored 41-2 by the Hurricanes.
“I thought everyone battled right to the end,” Kendrick said. “We had a lot of stuff go on this year, with injuries and other things, and I’m really proud of our players.”
Kendrick said it’s always tough at the end of the season as he sees the squad like a family.
“You’d like to see great things happen for these guys,” he said standing outside the locker room, “we just fell a little short.”
The players left the room and went to the Eastlink Centre lobby to sign autographs for fans.
Session said it hadn’t sunk in that the season was over.
“I don’t even want to feel that yet,” he said. “It has been a long time. A lot of stuff has happened. We persevered through a lot. It’s been a tough year, on the court, off the court, but I’m just glad I got the opportunity to play for the Storm.”
While the injuries hurt the squad it also provided an opportunity for some of the bench players to show what they could do with more minutes. One player who took advantage was guard Kemy Osse.
“I think Kemy was the biggest shock to a lot of people,” Session said, while noting his teammates knew how good he was from practice. “You can tell he’s just a hell of a player. All he needed was the time and the opportunity. He stepped up big for us in a lot of games.”
Tyler Scott and Chris Johnson were both dinged up late in the season. Both played Saturday, but Scott was limited to a rebound, an assist and a steal in six minutes.
Session said both players showed their heart and gave everything they had for the team.
“We appreciate them for it, that’s what real warriors do.”
A look at Saturday’s National Basketball League of Canada playoff game between the host Island Storm and the Halifax Hurricanes.
Hurricanes – 30 33 32 25 — 120
Storm – 22 20 32 29 — 103
Hurricanes – Tyrone Watson 26, Antoine Mason 22, Billy White 15 and Mike Poole 13.
Storm – Franklin Session 24, Kemy Osse 23 and Chris Johnson 23.
Hurricanes – Tyrone Watson 13 and Rhamel Brown 9.
Storm – Kemy Osse 9 and Franklin Session 8.
Hurricanes – Tyrone Watson 10 and Cliff Clinkscales 8.
Storm – Chris Johnson 5, Franklin Session 5 and Kemy Osse 5.
Hurricanes – 52 (47-for-91).
Storm – 44 (33-for-75).
Hurricanes – 45 (13-for-29).
Storm – 33 (8-for-24).
Hurricanes – 93 (13-for-14).
Storm – 83 (29-for-35).
Bench scoring – Hurricanes outscored the Storm 41-2.
Attendance – 1,336.