It happened just as the most optimistic scriptwriter would have wanted.
No matter how it came about, the win the St. John’s Edge came up with Saturday night was going to be labelled as special, what with it coming in the National Basketball League of Canada expansion team’s very first game.
But the Edge’s 97-96 victory over the Island Storm in Charlottetown, P.E.I., got bumped up to extra-special, maybe even extraordinary, given that it came on a three-point shot by none other than Newfoundlander Carl English with just about four seconds remaining in what was an extremely close game.
For the entire fourth quarter, no more three points separated the two teams, with the lead exchanged several times, including when the Storm went up by two with 11 seconds left in a three-point shot by Franklin Sessions. But on the following possession after a timeout, the Edge inbounded the ball from mid-court. Alex Johnson fed English coming out of the corner and the 36-year-old took advantage of a clean look to deliver his third trey of the night.
Sessions would attempt to match that with a desperation three-point attempt of his own at the buzzer, but it went wide. That led to jubilation among the St. John’s players, including Jarion Henry, who hoisted English high into the air.
Charles Hinkle led the Edge with 21 points, while centre Grandy Glaze delivered 19 points and a game-leading 17 rebounds
Glaze was also the St. John’s workhorse, playing all but two minutes of the game. As well, he was a perfect five-for-five on free throws.
The latter stat was part of a charity-stripe performance that proved to be a big difference-maker for St. John’s. The box score shows the Edge were 18-for-20 on free throws, while the Storm were a miserable 10-for-26.
English had just three points after three quarters, but delivered in the the stretch, putting up eight points in the last half of the final stanza. And depsite what had been a tough night for the Newfoundland guard, the Edge's final offensive play was set up for him to take the shot.
“it’s probably the worst shooting night I’e ever had, but I have been shooting for a long time and I believe in myself and I believe in my shot," Englsh told @NBLCanada after the game, "and I told the guys, 'Don’t worry’ and I knew I was going to make it.
“As I walked to the court, I told the ref what was going to happen.”
All five Edge starters made it to double figures in scoring, with point guard Rashaun Broadus joining English by recording 11 points, and Alex Johnson adding 10.
Rudolphe Joly had the best performance off the St. John’s bench with nine points and five rebounds.
One other interesting note from the NBL Canada boxscore: St. John’s shot 40 percent overall, but 40.5 percent on three-pointers. Hinkle led the team in successful long-range shots, going five-for-nine.
Sessions and Chris Johnson topped the Storm with 17 points each.
The Edge would have to do most of their celebrating on the team bus. Their second-ever game comes Sunday afternoon, 2:30 NT in Halifax against the Hurricanes.The game is being live-streamed and can be accessed through the Edge’s website at sjedge.ca.