An inaugural season to remember for the Sudbury Five
by Randy Pascal
A game five first round playoff loss to the St John's Edge was just about the only thing not to like about the absolutely incredible inaugural
season that was enjoyed by the Sudbury Five this year.
The 101-92 triumph for the maritime crew capped off a back and forth match-up, one that would see the Five take games one and three (100-99 and 124-112),
while the Edge walked off with games two and four (102-92 and 107-104), setting the stage for the winner take all affair.
Drawing crowds that ranked among the very best in the National Basketball League of Canada, the Sudbury reps pushed St John's to the proverbial
edge, holding a one point advantage (68-67) heading into the final quarter of game five.
The post-season tested duo of Jaylen Bland and Maurice Jones Sr would lead the way offensively for Sudbury, netting 22 and 21 points
respectively, followed by Yohanny Dalembert (19) and league MVP Braylon Rayson (13).
St John's countered with a starting five that all hit double digits, the trick turned by Murphy Burnatowski (25), Glen Davis (19), Junior
Cadougan (16), Desmond Lee (15) and Isaiah Tate II (11).
A big part of the appeal that so captured the local fans was the parity evident in the Central Division, with the London Lightning (22-18), Sudbury
Five (21-19), St John's Edge (21-19) and KW Titans (19-21) separated by just three games, while the Windsor Express (17-23) fell off only at
the very end, thanks to a season-closing 1-9 stretch.
The local franchise was also well honoured when it came to the post-season awards, with Jaylen Bland (Newcomer of the Year), head coach Logan Stutz
(Ian Fowler Memorial Executive of the Year) and Braylon Rayson (Most Valuable Player) all recognized for their efforts.
As a reward, Rayson was signed to a summer contract with the Luoyang Zhonghe of the National Basketball League of China, a second-tier league in
the Chinese Basketball Association, the top gathering of talent in Asia.
The 5'9" guard out of Dallas (Texas) led the league in four different statistical categories, including scoring (24.6 points per game), total points (1010)
and successful three point baskets (154), the last of which broke the NBLC league record.
Based on the reaction of hundreds if not thousands of Sudbury fans who attended games this past winter, the start of the 2019-2020 season in mid-November
simply cannot come quickly enough. The Five closed out their first year in the league averaging an audience of more than 1800 per game.