- Contact Us
Written by: Zach Dadson
The Niagara River Lions started their three-game road trip with a gut-wrenching 104-101 win against the Island Storm on Thursday April 13. The win was a welcome change of pace for a team that has struggled down the stretch but still remains hopeful about their chances of making the playoffs.
“It’s a huge win because, if you look at the last two games, we played well. We didn’t close the games off but we played well.” Coach Keith Vassell said after the game.
The River Lions had dropped their previous two games despite holding fourth quarter leads in each game.
“This game was big” Nick Okorie said after the River Lions’ win.
“They’re a good team. They came off a game where they beat London so it just kind of shows what happens if we stick to our guts and play together as a team.”
It was certainly a team win for the River Lions as three players finished the game with double-doubles, a feat that had never happened in franchise history before Thursday night.
The River Lions looked comfortable on the road right from the start, jumping out to a 14-4 lead in the game’s first few minutes.
Following the first quarter’s media time out the Island Storm got right back into it, Niagara led just 23-22 at the end of the first 12 minutes.
The River Lions outscored the Storm 32-20 in the second quarter and went into halftime with a dominating 57-44 lead.
Following a set of halftime adjustments, the Island Storm came out firing in the third quarter.
The Storm outscored Niagara 29-20 in the third quarter and were led in big part by former River Lion Mike Allison who made his debut for the Island Storm on Thursday night. Allison finished the game with 5 points, 7 rebounds and a block.
It didn’t get any easier for the River Lions in the fourth quarter as they were outscored 28-27 in the frame but the Storm weren’t able to complete the comeback.
The game in Charlottetown PEI was a homecoming for Nick Okorie who had started the season with the Island Storm.
“It was good to back. I spent a lot of time here but you know, at the end of the day I still treat it as any other basketball game.”
Okorie added that “I liked it on the Island. It’s a small community, there’s a lot of good fans here” when asked about his memories in Charlottetown. Okorie currently has the third most points scored in Island Storm history.
The game was also a personal highlight for new River Lion Joe Rocca.
Before joining the River Lions, Rocca had won a 2017 USports Gold Medal as a member of the Carlton Ravens.
“It’s such a quick adjustment” Rocca said after the game.
“The strength and athleticism is a lot higher here. The adjustment has been okay, I’m just trying to integrate myself into the offense a little bit, gain some trust from the coaches and do whatever I can to help this team make a push for the playoffs.” he added.
Kirk Williams Jr led all scorers with 23 points on Thursday night while adding an impressive 19 rebounds. Sam Muldrow finished the night with 17 points 12 rebounds and a block.
Richard Amardi scored 11 points and collected 11 rebounds while also contributing 4 assists.
The River Lions road trip continues on Saturday April 15 when they take on the Atlantic Division leading Halifax Hurricanes. They then head to Cape Breton to take on the Highlanders on April 16 in a matinee matchup.