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.