It went down to the final seconds, but the St. John’s Edge couldn’t pull out the victory, and now the first-year basketball squad faces the unenviable task of having to win a pair of games in London, Ont., if they hope to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
The London Lightning gutted out a 130-127 victory Thursday night at Mile One Centre to move within a game of advancing to the National Basketball League of Canada final, and a shot at defending their championship.
The Edge head back to London where they were 0-3 at the Budweiser Gardens during the regular season. The upside, however, is St. John’s did manage a win at the home of the Lightning, scoring a 112-104 win in Game 2 of the divisional final last week for a split of the first two games of the best-of-seven affair.
Game 6 of the series goes 3:30 p.m. (NL time) Sunday. If a Game 7 is required, it’s slated for 8:30 Tuesday night.
London’s mercurial star Royce White was more inspired on the Mile One hardwood Thursday night than he was Monday, when the Lightning suffered a 123-110 loss, with a 37-point night. He also picked up nine assists and pulled down four boards.
White fouled out with about four minutes to go in regulation time, but the Edge was unable to capitalize with his exit.
As a side note, White promptly engaged in a one-sided, finger-pointing diatribe with NBL Canada deputy commissioner Audley Stephenson after he fouled out, no doubt providing additional entertainment for some of the 4,496 who were within earshot.
White, of course, was embroiled in a controversy following Saturday night’s 101-86 London win after a number of fans accused the league scoring leader of having used foul language, and launching homophobic slurs at people seated near the London bench.
White, in turn, issued a statement denying the allegations and saying fans had harassed him about mental issues — he has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Stephenson called it a “he said, she said” situation, and as a result, the league did not hand out any discipline.
Mo Bolden and Ryan Anderson both had 24 points for the Lightning.
The Edge got a complete effort on the offence, with veteran Carl English leading the way, and showing no signs of slowing down in this physical series. English drained 34 points, collected seven assists and pulled down seven rebounds.
Charles Hinkle scored 27 points, Ryan Reid had 21 and Coron Williams netted 14. Desmond Lee added 11 points and Jarryn Skeete scored 10.
Alex Johnson, who was injured in Saturday’s game, was on the scoresheet but didn’t play. In fact, Johnson didn’t even dress after being diagnosed with a facial fracture. However, teams need to have five Canadians on their active roster and the Edge have no domestic replacement for the Toronto native.
Johnson’s status for Game 6 is unknown.