By Ian Shalapata
(WINDSOR, ON) – The playoff hopes of the Windsor Express took two steps forward on the weekend with home wins over Saint John (Friday) 104-74 and Oshawa (Saturday) 88-85.
Before tipping off against Saint John, a poignant moment of silence was held for the passing of the mother of Victor Morris. It is a reflection of the respect for Morris that not a sound was heard through-out the building except for the mechanical systems.
When the game got under-way, Windsor quickly took the lead in the first quarter and never looked back. However, the ever-trailing Mill Rats allowed their frustration show through on a number of occasions, adding to their inability to catch the Train. Cavell Johnson and Jerice Crouch could be seen complaining to the referees numerous times with Johnson displaying extreme displeasure with something Windsor’s Eric Parker may or may not have done under the basket.
The Express were led by 6’ 1” guard Mike Helms who scored 25 points and shot 3 for 7 from outside. After playing in six countries since leaving Oakland University, Helms has found a home in Windsor.
Whenever Anthony Johnson has been asked to contribute more, he has stepped up his game and Friday night was no exception. Johnson was nearly perfect from the floor hitting 5 for 5 from inside and 2 for 3 beyond the arc. He also dropped both free throws without even breaking a sweat. Johnson also made his presence felt under the basket by pulling down 10 rebounds on his way to a double-double.
A second double-double was recorded on the night by Darren Duncan who added to his assist total by dishing out 13 as well as scoring 12 points. (Continued below)
On Saturday, the Express hosted the Oshawa Power in a head-to-head match-up against a team Windsor is chasing for a playoff position.
Chris Commons, Windsor’s 6’ 9” forward from the University of Southern California-Aiken, led all Express players with 21 points. He also had a steal and 3 rebounds in a solid defensive showing.
Point guard Darren Duncan was a stand-out for the second night in a row, again scoring a double-double by contributing 20 points and 12 assists, as well as hitting on half of his 3 point attempts (3-6).
Former Windsor Lancer Greg Surmacz dominated under the Express bucket as he pulled in 9 rebounds in addition to scoring 10 points. After the Montreal game on Wednesday Surmacz was the topic of discussion as Telewizja Detroit interviewed Head Coach Bill Jones on the arena floor.
With three games (and three wins) in four nights, Windsor inched that much closer to a spot in the post season. As of 3 March, this is how the positions are shaping up with the Express clutching the final place-holder.
- London 31-5 (clinched)
- Summerside 21-14 (clinched)
- Tie Oshawa and Halifax 18-17
- Windsor 18-18
- Moncton 19-20
- Saint John 17-18
- Montreal 2-35 (eliminated)
With four games remaining in the regular season Windsor could conceivably reach as high as third place in the league, and home court advantage in the first round. Their next game will be in Oshawa on 6 March, a key match-up that will dictate how the standings will play out.
The Express then returns home on the 8th to host the London Lightning in the last game of the Hwy 401 Rivalry. London will likely be resting their key players for the post season, but they will also be playing for pride as the defending champions.
Windsor will have a rest until the 15th when they face the Saint John Mill Rats, again at home, and then hosting the Oshawa Power, on the final night of the regular season.
The Express definately hold their future in their hands.