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(WINDSOR, ON) – It was a homecoming of sorts Saturday evening when the Windsor Express hosted the NBL Canada expansion Sudbury Five to kick off the 2018-19 basketball season. The visitors featured no fewer than three former Express players who were returning to the southern confines of WFCU Arena.
Head Coach and General Manager of Sudbury Logan Stutz and guards Braylon Rayson and Antoine Chandler helped the Nickle to stay with the Express for most of the first half. The Five led Windsor by as much as 6 points before the home side found their footing and knocked down three treys, led by Ryan Anderson and Richard Amardi. The Express then staged a clinic by going to the rim for three slams by Juan Pattillo and Brian Addison.
By halftime Windsor had overcome the deficit and extended their lead over Sudbury to 69-49.
“We didn’t do enough,” said Express Head Coach Bill Jones, however, after the game. “We played a 24 minute game, but the basketball I know is a 48 minute game. We still have a lot of work to do.”
In the 2nd half Sudbury took the play to Windsor despite Amardi opening the 3rd frame with a Jordanesque one-handed stuff. The Five whittled the margin down to 96-88 by the end of the 12 minutes. A minute into the 4th Sudbury trailed by just three.
The two teams battled through the final quarter and were knotted at 104 with 7 minutes remaining. With the crowd urging them on, Windsor again created some room via the long ball. Thirty seconds later they clung to a 7-point buffer, 111-104.
Reggie Hamilton made it 114-107, much to the approval of the home town fans, but the Nickle put back a 2nd chance bucket to stay on pace. As the clock moved under 4 minutes, Sudbury hit for three followed by a pair of points to take a 4-point lead. Time out was called by Jones.
“You gotta go back to the drawing board. You gotta watch it on tape and see those things, the mental mistakes we made on defense,” said Jones. “Our defense was very poor today.”
Sudbury worked the score to 124-122 with 30 seconds left to tick off and the ball deep in Windsor’s zone. As the horn sounded the Five had their first franchise win, 126-123.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my guys. We fought through tonight,” said Stutz.
The Express will hit the court again this Wednesday when they welcome the St John’s Edge to Windsor. Tipoff is at 7pm.