Saturday night saw two of the top teams in the National Basketball League of Canada take part in their first meeting of the season, as the London Lightning played host to the Orangeville A’s. Both teams are loaded with talent, so points were going to be aplenty on the night.
Fans of college basketball knew all too well what some of the players in the game could bring to the table, and we had a battle of former collegiate forwards on our hands all game long. Former Buffalo Bulls star Justin Moss now calls Orangeville his basketball home, and he went up against the NCAA trio of Stephen Maxwell, Chad Posthumus, and Curtis Washington of the Lightning. Add in Flenard Whitfoeld (Western Michigan) and Richard Amardi (Oregon) for the A’s, and the paint was the place to watch all night long.
The Lightning led most of the way, but had to fight in the closing minutes to keep the A’s from taking the lead. In the end, London held on for the 106-101 victory over Orangeville.
The first quarter was eventful, to say the least. Moss got it all started for the A’s, scoring their first two points of the game. It was the first glimpse of the game-long battle in the paint between the NCAA stars.
Both teams went back and forth in the early going, looking for any edge to get things moving in the right direction. Whitfield was vocal on the floor for Orangeville, with little verbal barbs towards the Lightning after a pair of buckets for the A’s. Despite the jabs, London stayed focused, and it paid off in the closing seconds.
With just 12 seconds left on the clock in the quarter, Jameson Tipping picked up a technical foul for the A’s, landing him a spot on the bench. Fortunately for Tipping, Tyshawn Patterson would miss the ensuing free throw for London. Even with the miss, London held a 23-15 advantage after the first quarter, with 6 players finding the scoreboard for the Lightning in the process.
London opened the second quarter with a statement, as Warren Ward connected on a three pointer to get the Lightning off and rolling. The Lightning would stretch their lead to 28-17 before the media timeout.
As the quarter wound down, fans got to see what Washington could do in the paint. He showed off his low post moves, including a spin off the defender that led to a right-hand layup off glass to give London a 33-28 advantage.
Shortly thereafter, it was Posthumus’ turn to go to work in the paint. With three opponents all over him, he grabbed two offensive rebounds off missed layups, and converted the third chance opportunity while getting fouled, and completing the three-point play to push the lead to 38-30.
Orangeville would cut into London’s lead, closing the half on a mini 6-1 run, but the Lightning would take a slim 41-40 lead into the break.
Fast forward, to under 4 minutes left in the third quarter, and Orangeville was lowly mounting a comeback. Moss completed a three-point play to bring the A’s back to within 4 points, at 65-61, but that was short-lived. On their next possession, the Lightning got a big three pointer from Patterson, and the lead was back to 7.
The A’s would keep on pushing, and would cut the lead to 3 with 1:21 left in the quarter. London would close the quarter on a 6-1 run of their own to push their lead to 78-70 heading into the fourth and final quarter.
Orangeville spent the entire fourth-quarter trying desperately to chip away at the lead of the Lightning. Whenever the A’s would look to make a run, the Lightning would be right there with an answer of their own to keep themselves at a safe distance from Orangeville.
In the closing minutes, London had to rely on their free throw shooting to keep their lead, and they made their attempts when they needed to the most. Patterson made a pair to push the lead to 5, then got a steal and made a layup to put the game to rest.
Orangeville beat the buzzer with a layup to top the 100-point mark, but it was too little, too late. The London Lightning came away with the 106-101 victory over the Orangeville A’s.
For the visiting Orangeville A’s, it was Justin Moss leading the way on both ends of the floor. The former Buffalo star scored a game-high 25 points to go along with 14 rebounds and 4 assists in the loss.
On the night, four different Orangeville players reached double figures, including Flenard Whitfield (20) and Rick Bodiford (18).
The London Lightning were led by their trio of big men on the night, as Chad Posthumus, Stephen Maxwel, and Curtis Washington all had impact games. Posthumus (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Maxwell (12 points, 12 rebounds) each recorded a double-double, while Washington added 9 points and 4 rebounds.
London, Ontario native Warren Ward scored a team-high 24 points on the afternoon, scoring all of his points from behind the three point line. He was 8-of-13 from long distance, and 8-of-20 from the floor overall.
Tyshawn Patterson added 18 points and 2 assists in the victory.
Despite the loss, the Orangeville A’s (1-2) have the look of a team who very well could find themselves making a deep playoff run come May. Orangeville will be back on the road on Sunday afternoon when the play the Niagara River Lions for the first time this season.
With the win, the London Lightning (3-1) notched their second straight win, and are now 3-0 on their home floor to start the 2015-16 season. Like Orangeville, the Lightning will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they welcome the Windsor Express to town for their second meeting of the year.