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Gritty Response From Lightning Evens Series at Twos

After falling behind 2-0 in the series, the London Lightning clawed back to even last night, with a hard-fought, 122-114 overtime victory over the Halifax Hurricanes. It was the type of gritty game that the two veteran teams were expected to put on at the start of the series, but had failed to produce until Saturday night. To the delight of the 3,461 fans in attendance at Budweiser Gardens, the win ties the best-of-seven final at 2-2.

Ta’Quan Zimmermann hit a three pointer for the Hurricanes with just 28 seconds to go, to tie the game at 106-106, and send the game to overtime; but in the extra stanza, the Lightning just seemed to have more left in the tank. They dominated on the offensive rebounds at a couple of key times, and made their shots when they were presented.

Mo Bolden really stepped up and had a fantastic night with a game-high 38 points. He also pulled down 11 rebounds.

“I can do everything; it’s just me having my mind made up,” Bolden stated confidently. “Coach said I just have to be more assertive. Last game I felt like I let my team down… today I just said if I’m going to help my team, I got to do what I can do.”

Garrett Williamson was just one rebound away from a triple-double, with 23 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds. Julian Boyd also had another strong outing and again took advantage of his added playing time with 24 points and 14 big rebounds.

“I have always said, we have fighters, we have guys that are going to go hard and give everything we have under the leadership of Garrett, he’s really stepped up. Mo too, he was wonderful today, he took advantage of every opportunity that he had, said Coach Keith Vassell following the game. “It was a gritty game and it was a situation where we stayed focused and we tried to create opportunities and we were able to score.”

After the game, the Hurricanes were upset that the Lightning had made it to the foul line fifteen more times than Halifax.

“We have to make an adjustment to the officiating,” opined Hurricanes coach Mike Leslie. “It’s obvious that they are giving them the calls that we would normally, all season long, not be called for. . . . They are calling more fouls on us on our play than would normally be called for in league games . . . that’s close to 80 free throws in two games so we have to adjust.”

Leslie is referring to the fact that the Lightning have had 78 shots from the foul line in games three and four, and hit 61 of them. The Hurricanes are 34-of-51 over that same stretch, for a difference of 27 points in two games.

Sour grapes? CoachSpeak to try and curry favour for game five’s officiating? Lightning Coach Vassell wasn’t having any of it.

“I think we get fouled more than anybody else. I don’t have any pity for anybody if they are going to complain about fouls,” Vassell said. “No disrespect to them; they played a wonderful game but I just think it is what it is. Next game is a new game and we have to deal with it… If (Halifax) want to stay focused on that, I have no comment about it.”

There was a scary moment with just eight seconds left in overtime, when Marcus Capers hit the floor hard fighting for a rebound. He would be carried from the court strapped to a stretcher board. In a great gesture of respect and sportsmanship, the two head coaches and teams encircled centre court with their arms entwined.

Capers had suffered a back injury, but was moving his extremities after the game and later tweeted that he was okay:

The thrilling overtime win sets up a big Game Five on monday night at Budweiser Gardens, in what will be the Lightning’s final home game of the season. Tickets for Mondays game are available at the Budweiser Gardens Box office or www.lightningbasketball.ca.

About Mark Solway

Storyteller. Community builder, content creator, sports journalist, and a proud Londoner for 40 years.

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