Express Advance To NBL Finals

Akeem Scott (1) and Tony Bennett (12) during Game 7 of the NBLC 2015 Central Conference Finals at WFCU Arena in Windsor, ON, on 12 4 2015.Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Akeem Scott (1) and Tony Bennett (12) during Game 7 of the NBLC 2015 Central Conference Finals at WFCU Arena in Windsor, ON, on 12 4 2015.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Header-image-Shalapata-2(WINDSOR, ON) – In the end, it wasn’t even close. The Express scored 37 points in the first quarter and 38 more in the second, as Windsor clinched their second straight Central Conference Championship with a 120-101 victory over the Brampton A’s on Sunday afternoon.

The Express came out firing to score the first six points before Brampton threw their first punch, tying the game at 15-15. From there, Windsor pushed forward on a 22-7 run to finish the first quarter up 37-22.

Tony Bennett (12) during Game 7 of the NBLC 2015 Central Conference Finals at WFCU Arena in Windsor, ON, on 12 4 2015.Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Tony Bennett (12) during Game 7 of the NBLC 2015 Central Conference Finals at WFCU Arena in Windsor, ON, on 12 4 2015.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Windsor’s Chris Commons and Brampton’s Zane Johnson carried their teams in the first, with Commons dropping nine, while Johnson went 5-for-5 behind the arc for 15 of the A’s points. The Express kept the pedal down, extending their lead to as many as 35 points, and closing out the first half with a massive 75-41 advantage.

Brampton showed they weren’t going away quietly, outscoring Windsor 29-17 in the third quarter, cutting their deficit to 22, but Windsor never let the A’s get closer, closing out their second Conference Championship in a row.

Commons finished with a team high 26 points, while Tony Bennett added 24.

The victory continues a shocking trend of success in elimination games for the Express franchise. In nine games in which the Express could be eliminated from the postseason, Windsor is 8-1.

The Windsor Express will face the Halifax Rainmen for the NBL Championship. Halifax has been idle since they eliminated the Island Storm on March 30 with a 125-116 game 5 victory. Express team president Dartis Willis believes the lag for the Rainmen will be to Windsor’s benefit.

“It gives us the opportunity to start off running right at the beginning,” he said. “Basketball is about speed and flow and we’re already walking in with that flow. With us coming off that high, the guys will know where to start.”

The Express will have home court advantage in the series and will host Games 1 and 2, which will be played on Wednesday, April 15 and Friday, April 17 respectively, starting at 7:00 pm at the WFCU Centre.

Games 3, 4, and 5 will be in Halifax, with Games 6 and 7, if necessary, back in Windsor.

Andre Levingston, the owner of the Halifax Rainmen, has a history with Willis. The two go back decades, and it was after Levingston’s insistence that Willis founded the Express.

“He’s my best friend. We grew up together, ever since sixth grade,” Willis explained. “He brought me into the opportunity of starting a team. If you had to write a book it would be The Battle of the Friends.”

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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