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Written by: Zach Dadson
The Niagara River Lions dropped the second game of their three game East Coast Road Trip 102-92 to the Atlantic Division leading Halifax Hurricanes on Saturday April 15.
Despite allowing the Hurricanes to jump out to an early lead the River Lions showed resiliency, retaking the lead 14-13 with 5:30 to go in the first quarter. Niagara led 23-17 in the final minutes of the quarter before finishing the frame with a 26-23 lead.
Niagara had a game high 7-point lead in the final minutes of the second quarter but the Hurricanes went on a 7-0 run to finish the half and went into the break with a 50-50 tie.
Niagara bounced back in the third quarter, leading 62-56 in the frame’s first five minutes and even led 64-61 with 5 minutes to go before Halifax’s strong rebounding game allowed them to overtake the River Lions and go into the fourth and final quarter with a 75-70 lead.
The Hurricanes led the entire fourth quarter and improved their record to 25-10. Niagara falls to 11-24 on the season.
“There’s just one stat that was the difference.” Head Coach Keith Vassell said after the game.
“They had 23 offensive rebounds. You take away that, we have 10 offensive rebounds, they have 10 offensive rebounds, we win that game by 10 points”. Vassell continued.
The River Lions were outrebounded 60-46 in the game and Halifax had 23 offensive rebounds to Niagara’s 10.
Matt Marshall played his first meaningful minutes for the Niagara River Lions since returning to the team after his season in Slovakia. He scored his first regular season points for the River Lions midway through the game.
“When I play basketball I like to have fun.” Marshall said after the game.
“The way I have fun is hustling, continuing to just move around the court and just try to disrupt as many things as I can and that’s what I did. I just disrupted the play, got an offensive rebound and put it back up.” Marshall added.
Coach Vassell was impressed with what he saw from the Burlington, ON native.
“Matt is a great team player. He came in, he grabbed a big offensive rebound put back. He will take the opportunities that present themselves and he was matched up against a very good player and he held his own so I was very happy.”
After the game the entire focus was on what’s next.
“When we get into the locker room it’s all Cape Breton.” Carl Hall said after the game. Hall finished the night against the Hurricanes with 18 points, 7 rebounds.
“That’s all we’re talking about, Cape Breton. It’s on to the next because we can’t dwell on this game right here because it’s over and there’s nothing we can do it about it. We’re just trying to move forward mentally and get ready for Cape Breton tomorrow because we’re trying to go at least 2-1 on this road trip.”
Nick Okorie had 18 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds while Scoop Jardine finished the game with 16 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds.
Richard Amardi notched 11 points and 5 rebounds while Kirk Williams Jr neared a double double with 7 points and 9 rebounds.
The River Lions must go at least 4-1 in the team’s remaining 5 games to have a hope at overtaking the Orangeville A’s and make the playoffs. The march towards the playoffs continues Sunday April 16 with a matinee matchup against the Cape Breton Highlanders.