Too little, too little, too late
by Randy Pascal
On most nights, the Sudbury Five will feature a lineup that is somewhat different than most of their opponents in the National Basketball
League of Canada.
At least a tad undersized, across the board, the Five favour a run and gun game built around a heavy dose of perimeter shooting. With leading scorer
Braylon Rayson out of the lineup on Sunday (concussion), their look was even more different than usual.
In a contest that featured a half-time pace that had neither team hitting the century mark, the Five staged a late rally that fell just short, dropping
a 105-103 decision to the London Lightning.
As has so often been the case, a slow start was once again not the culprit, the homeside jumping out to a 30-26 lead after twelve minutes of play, with
Cory Dixon pacing the attack early for Sudbury, scoring nine of his 26 points in the first quarter alone.
With both teams running their offense much closer to the entirety of the 24-second clock than fans of the Five have been used to seeing, London made up
the initial deficit, outscoring Sudbury 20-16 in quarter number two as the teams retreated to their rooms, tied at 46-46.
Gradually, the advantage in the paint that the Lightning enjoyed (London out-rebounded Sudbury 58-45), along with a very deep roster, allowed the
visitors to secure a lead and hold it, up 73-67 at the end of three and increasing that margin to double digits at various times in the final quarter of
Buoyed by the best performance of the year from their hometown hero, along with another good-sized crowd on hand, the Five refused to quietly slip away,
taking one final crack.
With 3.3 seconds remaining and trailing by a pair, the locals worked the ball quickly up to the half-court, where Devin Gilligan let loose with a
desperation game-winning heave that hit the backboard but not the rim, dropping the Sudbury record to 8-8, while London sits at 6-7.
No one in the lineup that coach Logan Stutz dressed on Sunday took greater advantage of the Sudbury injury bug (Dexter Williams Jr joined
Rayson on the sidelines) than Collège Notre-Dame product George Serresse. Making good on no less than five three point baskets, the L.U. alum
registered 18 points, this after amassing a total of 46 points in his 14 previous encounters.
“As soon as you hit the first one, then you start feeling it,” said Serresse, alluding to the first of two back to back first quarter threes that
clearly sparked both his team and the crowd. “That's pretty much when it all started. Like they say, when it rains, it pours.”
Despite the noteworthy absentees, Serresse acknowledged that it would be difficult for the Five to completely change the team that they are. “We still
tried to keep the same game plan,” he said. “We have a team that runs a lot, so we still try and keep that, even with our injuries right now. We still try
and keep the same mindset.”
Following his graduation from the Voyageurs a few years ago, Serresse would travel to France to pursue the opportunity to play basketball professionally,
returning home this fall to a somewhat different structure of play to that which he had grown used to.
“It's a lot different from where I was,” he said. “Where I played, it was just one game per week. A couple of weeks ago, here, we had a stretch of seven
games in eleven days. It's definitely something that you need to get used to. Even though you have that many games, you still have to do what you need to
do to stay in shape.”
Though the novelty of the very first couple of games in franchise history may have now worn off, Serresse is not about to take any of this experience
for granted. “I honestly like everything about it,” he said. “I always said that whenever you have a chance to do what you love, you truly appreciate it.”
“Just being around this team, grinding out the season with these guys is something that I am cherishing.” Joining Serresse and Dixon in double digits,
for the Five, were Travis Releford (21), Devin Gilligan (13), Adam Blazek (12) and Grandy Glaze (11).
A very balanced London offense would see all eleven players that saw court time finish with no less than four points, with Garrett Williamson (15),
Maurice Bolden (13), Marvell Waithe (13), Jaylen Babb-Harrison (11) and A.J. Gaines Jr (10) leading the way.
Stutz and company will now enjoy a few days of recovery, taking to the court again Friday night at home versus the same opponent, and then closing out a
home and home set, in London, on Sunday, with a 2:00 p.m. tip-off.