A slow start sets the tone as Five fall on the road
by Randy Pascal
In dropping eight of their past ten games, the Sudbury Five have suffered many a loss in contests that truthfully could have gone either way.
That was not the case Sunday in Halifax.
Limited to just 16 points in the opening quarter, the visiting Five were down by 13 after twelve minutes of play, behind by 18 by the time that buzzer
sounded to signal the half.
Starting the third quarter every bit as relentlessly as they opened the encounter, the Halifax Hurricanes added to their lead with a 37-25 run
before the Sudbury men earned a very small degree of consolation, outscoring the third place team in the Atlantic Division 24-23 in the final period
The 122-93 win was very much a team effort for the 'Canes, with no less than seven different players hitting double digits on the scoresheet. Mike
Poole and Joel Kindred led the way with 25 and 21 points respectively, but they had plenty of help, with Terry Thomas (18), Chadrack
Lufile (14), Tyler Thornton (11), Malcolm Duvivier (10) and Jordan Washington (10) all getting into the mix.
Showing signs of looking very much like the version of himself that kicked off the inaugural season of National Basketball League of Canada play
in Sudbury in early November, Jaylen Bland topped all scorers with a 28 point performance, with Isaiah Johnson (18), Cory Dixon (13)
and Devin Gilligan (11) also contributing nicely for the Five.
Addressing the slow start, Sudbury head coach Logan Stutz noted that this was clearly a case of a game-plan gone awry. “With all of the
travelling, we knew that the first quarter would be very important, and I knew if we came out and played a good first quarter, we would set ourselves up
for the rest of the game,” he said.
“Unfortunately, in the first quarter, we only put up 16 points and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Despite falling to 0-2 versus Halifax after losing 120-110 at home back on December 16th, Stutz noted that there was nothing in particular, in terms of
the respective skill sets of the teams, that rendered the Hurricanes any more challenging an opponent than others that the Five have already vanquished.
“They kind of set the tempo and that created some problems that we had a hard time responding to,” he said. “But overall, personnel-wise, I think we
actually matched up well. They just came out and played a lot better basketball than us.”
Their current losing skid now at four games and with a record 9-12, the Sudbury crew are looking to some positive notes as they prepare to face the
Saint John Riptide (6-12) on Wednesday and the Cape Breton Highlanders on Friday, before returning to Ontario to battle the London
Lightning next Sunday.
“Overall, Jaylen (Bland) played a solid game for us,” stated Stutz. “I was happy to have Jaylen back and I do believe that he's back in form, which is
great for us. “Big Dog (Isaiah Johnson) is getting in form and he showed some great signs. He showed us a lot of good things and now, as a coach, I have to
find out how to utilize him at the right time and get the guys to work around him a little bit.”
Beyond avoiding the minus 30 degree temperatures awaiting them in northern Ontario, the Sudbury Five must also look to the benefits of spending a little
additional time together as they focus on righting the ship heading into the final few months of the 2018-2019 campaign.
“We're out here on the road, together,” stressed Stutz. “It's time for us to come together, it's time for us to fight together, and that's exactly where
we're at. We've got to come out as a team and fight as a team and play as a team.”