SAINT JOHN – With a near sell-out crowd on its feet cheering their efforts, the Saint John Riptide closed their 2018-19 National Basketball League of Canada season Wednesday, dropping a 107-104 overtime thriller to the Moncton Magic.
The Riptide didn’t go down without a fight, giving Moncton all in could handle in the deciding game at Harbour Station.
“For us, it was a year of growth for a lot of guys”Coach Nelson Terroba
“Hats off to Moncton they made plays down the stretch when it counted,” Riptide guard Frank Bartley said post-game.
“But, our guys battle hard all game, just like we did all season.”
Bartley, the NBLC’s rookie of the year, led the ‘Tide with 32 points. TJ. Maston followed with 21. Jon Harris added 17 points while Jeremiah Mordi chipped in with 14, and Kemy Osse contributed 11.
Trey Kell paced the Magic with 31, while Billy White added 17 in the victory.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to Moncton. They’re a very good team,” Riptide head coach Nelson Terroba said.
“For us, it was a year of growth for a lot of guys. I’ll be sad to see them go but hopefully they learned from this experience and that will help in their careers next season.”
The fourth was a quarter of runs that saw the Magic open with 14-2 burst before Saint John responded with a 7-0 run of their own to take a 84-81 lead with 7:45 to go.
A 10-0 Magic spurt staked the Atlantic Division regular season champs to a 91-84 advantage with five minutes to play. The Riptide chipped away before taking a 97-95 lead with 50 seconds left thanks to a 5-0 run by Bartley. A contested layup by White knotted the score at 97 apiece with 30 seconds remaining. Neither team converted on their last possession, sending the game to overtime.
The ‘Tide led 75-67 heading into the fourth quarter courtesy of some inspired guard play from Bartley, who had 11 points in the stanza, and Osse, who scored seven.
After leading 23-18 at the end of one quarter, the Riptide stretched their lead to as many as eight points in the second quarter before going into the half with a 47-46 advantage.
The Highlanders and Hurricanes square off Saturday in Halifax for the right to play Moncton for the Atlantic crown. No dates have been set for the divisional best-of-seven final.
The winner of the Atlantic Division will face the Central Division champs for the NBLC title.