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Riptide rookies making mark in NBL of Canada

SAINT JOHN – Two Saint John Riptide rookies are being recognized as rising stars in the National Basketball League of Canada.

Frank Bartley heads into the Sunday’s home game versus the Cape Breton Highlanders as the reigning NBLC player of the week after averaging 19.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game in the seven days ending Feb.17.

The 6-foot-3 guard, who played collegiately at Louisiana-Lafayette, topped that by going for 28 in a win over the Island Storm on Monday. He is sixth in NBLC scoring at 19.4 per game. He also averages 5.5 boards and three assists per game.

“Receiving the award is a great honour in this competitive league. It was because of my teammates and coaches who put me in position to win it,” Bartley said. “But, I have to give all of the credit to our big guys who have been battling on the inside all week. They did all the dirty work, which doesn’t show up on the box score. I just came in and helped secure the rebounds while they were fighting off the other bigs.”

One of those Riptide bigs is T.J. Maston, who joined the league’s elite scoring list this week. Maston, a 6-foot-9 centre, now sits eighth in the NBL in scoring at 18.7 points per game. He is fifth in rebounding at 8.8 per contest, and third in block shots at 2.4 per game.

Maston, who joined the Riptide 13 games into the season after a college career at Baylor University, became eligible for the league leaderboard after playing his 18th contest for Saint John Monday, amassing 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Maston, a native of Dallas, Texas, and  Bartley, who hails from Baton Rouge, La., are among those in the conversation for Newcomer of the Year honours, says NBLC beat writer José Colorado.

Colorado calls Maston a ‘dangerous wildcard making a late surge” for the award.

Of Bartley, he writes: “Beyond the team success and points, Bartley has picked up his defensive activity of late as well. He has now recorded (at least) a single steal in his past six games, including four multiple-theft efforts.”

Others in the conversation are: Jaylen Bland of the Sudbury Five, Sampson Carter of the Storm, Glen (Big Baby) Davis of the St. John’s Edge and Cory Dixon of Sudbury, Colorado says.

Of the five, only Maston and Bartley are true pro rookies.

Sunday’s 2 p.m. tip off at Harbour Station against Cape Breton is the first of five straight home games for the Riptide. The other dates are:

  • Feb. 28 vs. the Halifax Hurricanes – 7 p.m.
  • March 1 – vs. the Moncton Magic – 7 p.m.
  • March 2 – vs. the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans – 7 p.m.
  • March 7 – vs. the Moncton Magic – 7 p.m.

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