The good news is that the St. John’s Edge hung on for a win Friday night at Mile One Centre.
In a way, that might be the bad news, too.
The Edge opened a six-game home stand by downing the KW Titans 113-107, but until the final seconds of the contest, they never could put the dagger into what is — by record anyway — the worst team in the National Basketball League of Canada.
Just a day earlier, Edge head coach Jeff Dunlap had listed development of the ability to win more emphatically as the No. 1 goal for his team through the remainder of the regular season.
That didn’t happen Friday, although it must be said St. John’s maintained the lead throughout the entire contest, although there was no real pull-away effect.
The usual suspects — Charles Hinkle, with 21 points, and Carl English, with 20 — topped the Edge in scoring — and all of St. John’s starters hit double figures in points. But the real difference in this one was the play of the bench.
St. John’s non-starters outscored those of the oppostion 37-11 and saw almost twice as many minutes of floor time.
Wally Ellenson delivered 13 points in less than 20 minutes of play off the Edge bench; point guard Caron Williams didn’t start, but came up with 12 points in a starter’s worth of 32 minutes; and although his numbers — four points and four rebounds — weren’t eye-popping — lengthy newcomer Anthony Stover looked effective in his first game with St. John’s (19-11), which improved to 10-3 at Mile One.
Stover, acquired in a trade last month, and forward Xavier Ford, signed at the same time, we both activated earlier in the day. Ford, who arrived in St. John’s late in the week, didn’t play on Friday, but did officially get credit for one of the six games he’ll need in order to be playoff eligible.
The recent release of Tyler Haws had created one of the openings on the active roster, while the other came about when forward Ryan Reid was deactivated with what has been described as an upper-body injury.
Derek Hall, who played all but four minutes of the game, led the Titans (5-25) with game highs of 28 points and 18 rebounds, while Justin Hurtt added 20 for the visitors who will be the Edge’s opposition in a rematch tonight (7 p.m.) at Mile One.
Desmond Lee had 10 rebounds for the home side, while English led all players with seven assists.
St. John’s shot nearly 55 per cent from the floor, a number made more impressive by the fact that the team’s overall three-point shooting — which has been on the wane for a while — came in at just over 30 per cent.
The result leaves St. John’s second in the Central Division and third overall in the league behind the division-leading London Lightning and Halifax Hurricanes, who also won Friday.