Express Quells The Storm

By Ian Shalapata

(WINDSOR, ON) – In basketball, normalcy is skewed. Where a player at 6′ 3″ is considered a “small” forward, someone who is 5′ 11″, average height in the real world, is at a disadvantage on the court. Last night in Windsor the small guys were the big men during the double overtime, 124-122 Express victory over the Summerside Storm. With the win Windsor has forced a fifth and deciding game in the NBL Canada semi-final series.

Windsor’s 5′ 11″ point guard, and Merrimack graduate, Darren Duncan assumed the leadership role Saturday night and set the example for the team to follow. He led all Windsor shooters with 27 points and dished off 13 assists. Additionally, Duncan also puled down 16 rebounds for his second triple-double of the series. Most importantly, Duncan provided the calming influence the team needed to keep the game in reach when Summerside was leading. Late in the second overtime period he forced a defender to overcommit, and then methodically set and dropped a cool trey. The bucket put Windsor ahead to stay.

Stefan Bonneau, also 5′ 11″, put in 26 minutes and was instrumental in extending Windsor’s season. Although he only went 2 for 5 from beyond the arc, the biggest came with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter that tied the game and forced overtime. Bonneau also caused some excitement when he demonstrated a textbook slam dunk late in the game. Bonneau totalled 20 points during the game including 6 for 6 from the foul line. His late-game heroics had the nearly 1,500 in attendance cheering and on their feet.

There is a saying in basketball that you don’t need to shoot well to play well. That would describe 6′ 9″ forward Chris Commons’ play Saturday night. Commons was less than accurate hitting just 31% from the floor (on 16 attempts) and 2 for 5 from the line. However, only part of Commons’ larger-than-life presence was recorded in mere statistics; 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. One block preserved the Windsor lead in the final seconds, and he and Bonneau pressed Summerside to run down the clock for the victory.

Chris Commons is one to shun the spotlight, but his was the voice of reason during a melee between the two teams at game’s end. A lot of shoving, jersey tugging, and harsh words, otherwise known as a faceoff in hockey, broke out just as the teams were to shake hands after the final buzzer. Commons was able to convince cooler heads to prevail and the players retired to their respective dressing rooms.

The deciding game will be played in Summerside on Tuesday. The winner will go through to the finals against the London Lightening.

To a man, the Windsor Express players are a determined group and are dedicated to each other. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

To a man, the Windsor Express players are a determined group and are dedicated to each other. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Chris Commons soars above the gaggle crowding the paint. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Chris Commons soars above the gaggle crowding the paint. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Darren Duncan completes a lay-up in the first half against the Summerside Storm in Windsor on 30 March 2013. Duncan scored a triple-double on the way to forcing a deciding semi-final game five. Click on the image for a larger display. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Darren Duncan completes a lay-up in the first half against the Summerside Storm in Windsor on 30 March 2013. Duncan scored a triple-double on the way to forcing a deciding semi-final game five. Click on the image for a larger display. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Summerside's Antwan Tisby couldn't move Windsor tough guy DeAndre Thomas. At game's end Thomas found himself in the middle of a tussle between the two teams. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Summerside’s Antwan Tisby couldn’t move Windsor tough guy DeAndre Thomas. At game’s end Thomas found himself in the middle of a tussle between the two teams. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Chris Commons sizes up defender Nick Evans. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Chris Commons sizes up defender Nick Evans. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Mike Helms (5) gets a step on Brandon Robinson as he drive toward the basket. Helms scored 14 points and had 4 steals in the win over Summerside. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Mike Helms (5) gets a step on Brandon Robinson as he drive toward the basket. Helms scored 14 points and had 4 steals in the win over Summerside. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Stefan Bonneau held a slam dunk clinic late in the game. Click on the image for a larger display. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Stefan Bonneau held a slam dunk clinic late in the game. Click on the image for a larger display. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Chris Commons and Greg Surmacz (33) help Stefan Bonneau to his feet after drawing a foul. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Chris Commons and Greg Surmacz (33) help Stefan Bonneau to his feet after drawing a foul. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Chris Commons played the peace-maker when things turned nasty after the final buzzer. Cooler heads prevailed but the table is set for rousing game five in PEI. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Chris Commons played the peace-maker when things turned nasty after the final buzzer. Cooler heads prevailed but the table is set for rousing game five in PEI. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata

Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States.
Email Ian Shalapata

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