Things didn’t begin all that well at Mile One Centre Friday night, but for the home side, they certainly ended in fine fashion.
Rashaun Broaadus intercepted an inbound throw-in with 17 seconds left in the game, then raced the length of the floor to sink what would be the winning basket as the St. John’s Edge downed the Niagara River Lions 105-103 Friday night in the Edge’s first-ever National Basketball League of Canada home game.
Newfoundland’s Carl English had a game-high 22 points for the Edge in his long awaited homecoming. Friday’s contest, played before a full house of 4,860, represented the 36-year-old Patrick’s Cove native’s first competitive basketball game in this province in nearly two decades.
The result improved the expansion Edge’s early-season record to 4-2. Niagara suffered its first loss after opening the season with three straight wins.
It was supposed to have been a 7 p.m. tip-off Friday, but the start of the game was delayed by well more than half an hour when the 24-second shot clocks malfunctioned — they wouldn’t reset properly. That necessitated the borrowing of shot clocks from the Provincial Training Centre and the transport of the same to Mile One.
But the wait didn’t seem to drain much energy out of an anticipatory — and what turned out to be very loud — crowd.
Neither did the actual first couple of minutes of action, which saw the River Lions race out to a 7-0 lead. The Edge, meanwhile struggled, none more than English, who missed his first two shots and was quickly tagged for two personal fouls.
But then, just as most in attendance wanted, English caught fire, sinking a three-pointer for the Edge’s first-ever home-court score. Grandy Glaze, returning to NBL Canada action after missing the last three games of St. John’s five-game season-opening road trip on assignment to Team Canada, followed with a dunk.
The Edge — and pro basketball — seemed to finally be off an running at Mile One.
Eventually, so did those troublesome time clocks. Whether by technical or human adjustment, they appeared to straighten themselves out.
Just like the home side was doing. With English sinking 15 of his 22 points in the first quarter, St. John’s grabbed a lead it wouldn’t relinquish until late in the contest.
With just over two minutes remaining in the contest, the River Lions’ Carl Hall made a layup to put the visitors ahead 101-100, capping a persistent chip-away effort that saw the Niagara erase what had been a 13-point final-quarter deficit.
The Edge were complicit in the River Lions’ comeback. In the last 7:20 of the game, St. John’s was two-for-12 from the floor and missed three of eight free throws. Besides a successful Jarion Henry dunk, the only other successful make by an Edge player came from Broadus, the team’s 33-year-old starting point guard.
But what a make it was.
With the score tied 103-103 and the River Lions looking for a game-winning play, English was tasked with shadowing Niagara’s Max Hooper, who looking to inbound the ball in the St. John’s Edge of the court. But when Hooper tried to lob it over English to a River Lions teammate, Broadus swooped in for the steal and travelled the end to end for a layup that put the home side in front.
Niagara would get time for one more shot attempt, but it fell astray, much to the delight of the fans and the Edge players.
Charles Hinkle, who has been a consistent scorer for the Edge so far this season, had 17 points. So did Glaze, who contributed a team-high eight rebounds and three steals.
Samuel Muldrown had 19 points and 11 boards, topping Niagara in both categories. Marvell writhe added 17 points for the River Lions.
Both English and St. John’s head coach Jeff Dunlap said they didn’t think the Edge had played a great game Friday, but Dunlap credited his team’s resolve, which has been tempered to hardness by its experience so far.
Every one of St. John’s six games has come down to the final possession.
And Dunlap acknowledged his team benefit by contributions from beyond the 12-player roster, saying the crowd “absolutely” was the difference and worth more than a few baskets Friday.
The Edge will be looking for more of the same in a rematch with the River Lions 7 p.m. tonight at Mile One.
English was undoubtedly the most popular Edge player, but a definite second was another Canadian guard, one who scored six points in only 13 minutes of playing time. That’s Brampton, Ont., native Jarryn Skeete, whose last name — with its unique Newfoundland connection — caught the fancy of fans, who chanted it every time he touched the ball. The 24-year-old says while he is somewhat aware of the negative contortion of “skeet” in these parts, it doesn’t faze him. He chose instead to revel in hearing his name reverberate through the building … Irwin Simon and Robert Sabbagh, owners of the Edge franchise, took in Friday night’s home opener. Both live in New York City, although Simon is a native of Glace Bay, N.S. … After a delay in shipment, Edge-branded merchandise arrived Friday and was selling briskly at Edge Wear, the team’s store at Mile One …