On at least a few occasions, the Sudbury Five appeared to have the London Lightning on the ropes, over the course of the 2019-2020 home opener for the northern crew and second year entry in the National Basketball League of Canada.
Their inability to finish their opponents would prove costly, however, as some key three point baskets from the visitors, all part of a 28-21 fourth quarter advantage for the Lightning, proved to be enough for London to clip Sudbury, 102-98, Monday evening at the Sudbury Arena.
Coming off the bench, Mareik Isom would lead the Lightning with 30 points, with Garrett Williamson (20), Marcus Capers (14) and A.J Gaines (11) also all hitting double digits.
Showing the way for Sudbury was J.R. Holden, with 24 points, as Braylon Rayson and Marlon Johnson chipped in 17 points apiece, and Josiah Moore added 11.
Getting out of the gate quickly, the Five led 26-24 after the opening twelve, but were down 56-53 at the half, leap-frogging the Lightning again in quarter three to take a 77-74 advantage into the final quarter of play.
While the Five have displayed much greater defensive intensity, throughout the game, in the early stages of the season versus what was typically the case last year, their ability to hit from beyond the arc has been woeful to date, a big part of their 0-2 start to the year.
Where London shot at a more than respectable clip of 42.4% (14-33) from three point land, the homeside could hit only four of their 34 shots from distance (11.8%), with the contrast most evident through the final six to seven minutes of this game.
It was a somewhat similar story in their season-opening loss to the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans on Saturday (115-107). The Five were marginally better with their three-point attempts (11/45 - 24.4%), with the Titans a little more efficient (12/36 - 33.3%), but quite honestly winning this match-up from the free-throw line, where they bettered the visitors by a margin of 19/25 vs 12/19.
Rayson (25 pts), Holder (19), Moore (11) and Johnson (10) were again near the top of the Sudbury scoring parade, joined in this contest by spirited returnee Dexter Williams Jr (16).
Coach Logan Stutz and company now take to the road for a five game stretch, battling the K-W Titans (Jan 2nd), Windsor Express (Jan 4th), London Lightning (Jan 5th), Halifax Hurricanes (Jan 9th) and Island Storm (Jan 10th), before returning home to host the Titans and Storm on January 17th and 19th respectively.