As you might expect, Carl English had good time Saturday night at Mile One Centre.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few frazzled minutes towards the end of his record-setting performance in the St. John’s Edge’s 127-117 win over the KW Titans, but when you’re well on the back side of a long and successful career as a basketball sharpshooter, and you set a personal and league-history high in single game scoring, it’s not a few harried moments that will line up in the forefront of the memory banks.
“It was a lot fun. It got a little crazy at the end,” agreed the 37-year-old English as he looked back on his 58-point performance on Saturday, “but mostly I was enjoying it, right from the start.
“I hit a couple of early shots and I felt I was in a pretty good zone. The big thing is it stayed that way.
“I’ve been hot a few times in my career, where I’ve felt really good at times in a game; there was one in Greece where I think I had 34 points in about 18 or 19 minutes.
“But I don’t think I’ve ever had a game where I felt so good for so long.”
The stats sheet backs up that feeling. The Patrick's Cove native had 12 points in the first quarter and 12 more in the second. Then, in the third quarter, he put up an incredible 21 points, or as many as he had in all of the Edge’s Friday win over the same Titans.
That created a buzz among the 4,000-plus who took in Saturday’s game, and a hubbub on and around the Edge’s bench.
St. John’s players and coaches probably didn’t need to consult the National Basketball League of Canada’s media guide to realize the league’s single-game scoring record was 56 points, set by Devin Sweetney of the Moncton Miracles in a 2013 game. That’s because Edge forward Charles Hinkle had come so close to that standard with a 53-point game at Windsor in mid-December.
With English sitting on 45 points with 12 minutes left to play, those in the know were well aware Sweetney’s mark was in jeopardy.
It didn’t take long for English to close the gap. Just over four minutes into the final quarter, he had nine of the 12 points he needed to break the record. What’s more, he had helped St. John’s build up a 23-point lead.
With that cushion, and with English so close to Sweetney, everyone in the building knew the ball was going to go through the hands of the Edge star. But that everyone included the Titans, who concentrated their defence on English, who didn’t make a shot from the floor the rest of the way.
“They played tough,” said English of the visitors. “It was a physical series and that (Saturday’s) game was borderline dirty, and to be honest, with the role I play, I know I’m always going to be a focus for other teams.
“But towards the end, they were really zoned on me.”
English said that led to concern not so much about the record, but the ultimate result.
He had become pretty much a lone gun whose chamber was being constantly reloaded by his teammates; English took 11 of St. John’s first 14 shots in the fourth quarter. But with the wear and tear of extended minutes showing and those shots suddenly not falling, the Titans began to rally.
“Guys had been bringing it (the scoring mark) to my attention, but really I wasn’t listening because I was mostly thinking how we really needed the win,” said English, who agreed he eventually found himself just wanting to get it over with in order to return his team back to a more regular plan of play.
“But that led to me taking a couple of quick, rushed shots and there was a couple of times I thought I had been fouled, but I didn’t get the call. It took probably took a bit longer than it should have … longer than I wanted.”
Eventually, English did get the foul line, hitting a free throw with four-and-a-half minutes left to tie the record and two more about three minutes later in breaking it.
When asked why he thought — in playing against the same opponent on the same court in a 24-hour period — he could go from a very respectable 21-point performance to a record 58, English first pointed to the fact he had played just 25 minutes in Friday’s 113-107 win over KW.
“I’d been a little beat up in that game, but I felt good Saturday and I think I was really focused, especially because Charles (Hinkle) was feeling a little sick and I knew I’d be counted on to score a little more,” said English.
“I’ve also always had incredible confidence in my ability, but there are just some games where all of it — the focus, the confidence, the feeling good — comes together, especially with the help of your teammates. This was one of them.
“First of all, I’m glad it came in a win. And I’m glad I could do it with my teammates and for the team and for the organization and for the ownership, and I’m really glad to do it at home in front of our fans. They were part of it, too.”
In setting the record, Carl English went 17-for-33 overall from the field; 11-for-20 on three-pointers; and 13-for-14 on free throws … English’s performance moved him to the top of the NBL Canada scoring list with 25.3 points per game. Royce White of the London Lightning is at 24.1 ppg, while Charles Hinkle is third at 21.5 … Midway through the third quarter of Saturday’s game, English was tripped by the Titans’ Ed Horton while on a break down the floor. That led to a melee at centre court, a foul called on Horton and the ejections of Grandy Glaze and Jarryn Skeete for coming off the Edge bench during the melee … The sweep of the Titans (5-26) improved the Edge’s record to 20-11 heading into a week where they face the two teams ahead of them in the overall standings. The Halifax Hurricanes (21-10) visit Mile One Tuesday and Wednesday, while the defending champion Lightning are here next Saturday and Sunday. London is also 21-10 after losing to the Moncton Magic Sunday …