SAINT JOHN, NB – The Saint John Riptide returned to the Harbour Station court Thursday night for a pivotal contest against a team chasing them in the Atlantic division standings, the Island Storm. It was an up-and-down night, a thrill-ride of sorts, for the Riptide faithful that came out to cheer on their team.
Similar to the last encounter between Saint John and the Island a few weeks ago at Harbour Station, this game started out with one team going on a run to take control early. However, this time it was the visiting Storm who jumped in front to lead 30-20 after the first quarter.
Despite shooting very poorly from beyond the arc in the first half, the Riptide managed to hang with the Storm. Darin Mency and Gabe Freeman lead the charge as the home side clawed back to within five points at halftime, 50-45.
The third quarter was a very tight frame with both sides trading buckets left, right, and centre. One key player came out hot in the third and that was Anthony Anderson. The league’s leading scorer had just four points in the first two quarters before posting over 10 points in the third, helping the Riptide further trim the Island lead down to three with the final 12 minutes of action looming.
In the fourth quarter, the Riptide gave their fans much to cheer about. One of the newest Riptide players Aaron Brown came up big for the team late in the game with a pair of timely back-to-back buckets and a defensive rebound, all leading to the Riptide taking a 79-78 lead, their first of the game, with under 10 minutes to play.
The two teams continued to battle back and forth before the final seconds. Down by one and the ball in their hands, the Riptide in bounded the ball with it eventually landing in the hands of Gabe Freeman who would softly lay it in while drawing the foul with about five seconds remaining. Freeman would miss the free throw but Akeem Ellis’ buzzer beater was no good. The Riptide took it home 94-92 in front of a boisterous crowd in their home barn.
Lineup notes: Horace Wormely(groin) and Haakim Johnson(suspension) were not in the Riptide lineup.