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Written by: Zach Dadson
By beating the Halifax Hurricanes 121-98 on Wednesday April 26 the Niagara River Lions did something they had never done in the franchise’s young history – win three games in a row.
Entering the final four games of the season the River Lions had to win all four to avoid being officially eliminated from the NBL Canada playoffs. Since then, Niagara is 3-0 and has a chance to go from 4 games back in the standings and overtake the Orangeville A’s for the fourth and final playoff spot. In order to make that happen, the A’s will also need to lose their Sunday April 30 game to the London Lightning.
Niagara led for the majority of the first half, by 10+ points at points, before the Hurricanes tied the game 39-39 with 5 minutes to go before halftime. Niagara led the entire second half and took home their biggest win of the season.
“It’s coming together at the right time. It’s the best time to be playing your best basketball.” Carl Hall said after the game.
Hall led the River Lions in scoring with 25 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
“I was just trying to be ultra-aggressive tonight.” Carl Hall explained when asked about his strong inside game.
“I was trying to establish an inside presence because I knew that’s what it was going to take to get the win.” Hall added.
The River Lions fed their offense through the paint Wednesday night and successfully utilized each player’s skillset.
“In starting Rich (Amardi) as a wing, the other coach has to deal with that and then you have Carl playing well inside. You have Sam (Muldrow) shooting the ball well outside and finishing inside also.” Coach Keith Vassell said after the game.
“Not to mention, Nick has been doing a good job getting assists, scoring for us and then Kirk comes in and Kirk’s a big ball of energy attacking the basket relentlessly.” Vassell added.
Richard Amardi had 23 points, 10 rebounds,4 assists and 2 steals on Wednesday night. Sam Muldrow also notched 23 points while adding 9 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Kirk Williams Jr had started the night slow, only scoring 4 points through the game’s first three quarters, but exploded in the fourth quarter for 15 points, finishing with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists.
“I couldn’t just keep shooting jump shots. I had to start attacking the basket a little bit more.” Kirk Williams Jr explained after the game.
While Niagara had a strong night offensively, it was their defense that gave them a 20+ point win.
“Coach had a game plan coming into these last four games, plaing hard and sticking to our defense. As long as our defense is good, we’re good. If we play defense, we can stick with anybody in this league.” Said Williams Jr.
“We kept it pretty simple offensively and it worked for us.” Coach Vassell said after the game.
“I was just happy that we knew how to win. We did what we had to do to win and there was no egos, we just played.” Vassell continued.
The atmosphere in the Lions’ Den was electric Wednesday night and River Lions fans being a loud “sixth man” will be key for the Niagara as they go for a fourth win in a row in their last game of the season on Saturday April 29 against the Orangeville A’s.
“We’re putting everything out there right now.” Amardi said after the game.
“For the crowd to receive that, and then give that back to us, it just fires up the whole 12 of us.”