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Written by: Zach Dadson
It was a thrilling night in the Lions’ Den as the Niagara River Lions defeated the Moncton Miracles 141-137 in triple overtime on Friday April 21. It was the first time the Niagara River Lions had ever had a game go into overtime and with their backs against the wall, the River Lions dug deep and pulled out an essential victory.
“I think everybody in the locker room and everybody on the floor, including the coaching staff, knew exactly what time it wastoday.” Richard Amardi said after the game.
Amardi finished the game with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
In order for the River Lions to have a chance at making the playoffs, the team needs to go undefeated in their remaining regular season games.
Niagara fell behind early in the game, trailing Moncton by 10 points in the first quarter as the Miracles shot well from the field to begin the game. The River Lions showed resiliency however as they climbed back into contention before finishing the first quarter trailing 25-22.
Niagara had a strong second quarter both offensively and defensively and the home team went into halftime leading Moncton 49-45.
The Moncton Miracles led by as many as 10 points late in the fourth quarter and it looked like the River Lions’ hopes of making the playoffs were dashed until the team came storming back.
Carl Hall went to the free throw line with seconds left in regulation and with the River Lions trailing 103-101. Hall hit both free throws (he would go 10-13 FT) and forced the team’s first overtime in franchise history.
“We were just trying to fight.” Hall said after the game.
“It was a must win for us. We’ve got to win every game down the stretch for us to have a chance and we were just locked in.”
Carl Hall finished the night with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Carl Hall also scored with seconds to go in the first overtime sending the game to double overtime. With both teams tied at 130-130 after double overtime, the game went to triple OT and tied the National Basketball League of Canada record for the longest game.
For Coach Vassell, the win was the result of his team digging deep and sticking together.
“I was just really proud of the way the guys fought. We talked about how we’re going to go after it and give everything. We left it all on the floor.” The River Lions’ Head Coach said after the game.
In the final minutes of the game, and in the final moments of each overtime period Coach Vassell was inserting Josiah Moore into the game on defensive possessions and Carl Hall on offensive possessions.
Josiah Moore has made his reputation on the River Lions based on his solid defense but in addition to his defensive intensity, Moore scored a career high 17 points in a career high 33 minutes on Friday night.
“All day I just wanted to come in and have better confidence. The last couple games I wasn’t shooting the ball well so I just wanted to come in, have better focus and stay on the boards like I do.” Josiah Moore said after the game.
The triple OT win against the Miracles was no doubt the team’s biggest win of the season and it was easy to see that the team had come together to fight for their playoff lives.
“This is definitely one of the high moments and we want to build on this and take it into our last three games.” Sam Muldrow said after the win.
Nick Okorie recorded the River Lions’ first triple double as he finished the night with 18 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds while Kirk Williams Jr led Niagara with 29 points and 8 rebounds. Sam Muldrow had another incredible night on both offense and defense as he finished the game with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 7 blocks while making 3 three-pointers.
“I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the fact that we fought.” Coach Vassell said after the game.
“I told them ‘beyond basketball you guys are men that are going after your goal and that carries you far beyond the sport of basketball. That carries you with your name and who you are as a person.’” Vassell added.
The fight for the playoffs continues on Sunday as the River Lions take on the Orangeville A’s in a 2pm matinee matchup in the Lions’ Den.