For the third year in a row, the London Lightning will face the Halifax Hurricanes in the National Basketball League Finals. The Lightning defeated the St. John’s Edge 106-101 in a hard-fought battle at Budweiser Gardens on Sunday afternoon to take the series in six games.
The Lightning overcame losing suspended Royce White and his offensive contributions, with a balanced attack from all five starters. Garrett Williamson stepped up and led the way with 25 points. He also had ten rebounds and seven assists, falling just a few assists short of a triple-double.
Ryan Anderson also flirted with the triple-double, having nine assists and eight rebounds to go along with his 16 points.
Julian Boyd was the one who moved from the bench to the starting line-up for White, and came up big with 14 points and chipping in 5 rebounds.
All five starters put up double digits, with Mo Bolden posting 14 points, and Doug Herring Jr. with 10. Kirk Williams Jr. was a monster off the bench with 17 points in 23 minutes of action.
Carl English led all Edge scorers with 21 points, and also had 11 rebounds. Charles Hinkle and Ryan Reid both had 14 points, while Desmond Lee had 10 points and gave the Lightning fits on the glass, with 14 rebounds.
The game itself was tight throughout, and there was never much in it. The Lightning took a six-point lead into the half at 46-40, but were down by one going into the fourth quarter.
Joel Friesen-Latty sparked a 7-0 run for the Lightning early in the fourth with a big three-pointer, that gave London the lead, but the Edge fought tooth and nail all the way. Lightning fans drew their collective breaths when Carl English hit a three with four minutes to go, that drew St. John’s within a basket.
But that’s as close as they would come. Even without White, the Lightning, and their experience were still too much for the Edge, and they answered every St. John’s surge, until there was eventually no time left on the clock.
The Lightning will now face Halifax, who won the Atlantic Division final series on Saturday over the Moncton Magic. Halifax finished first overall and will therefore have home court advantage for the first two, and last two games of the seven-game series. Games three, four and five will be played in London. Dates and times for all of those games will be announced soon.
Visit www.lightningbasketball.ca for more information.