(WINDSOR, ON) – Looking to get back to .500 after dropping their last game to St John’s, the Windsor Express set their sights on the division leading London Lightning, at home on February 21. The game marked the return of Braylon Rayson to the Windsor lineup.
“I think [Rayson] missed five games,” said Express head coach Bill Jones. “To be able to come out, to shoot the ball, and have 18 points off the bench, to give that with Omar [Strong] being out, Braylon stepped up, he produced.”
London ran out to a 16-11 lead while both teams were still shaking off the weather. With 5:48 left in the opening quarter, Windsor had crawled back on the strength of the long ball from Logan Stutz and Chad Frazier. By the end of the period just 6 points separated Windsor and London, after Kirk Williams Jr hit a triple with seconds left. The period was quite chippy as the clock wound down, with no shortage of bad blood between the rivals.
London’s Garrett Williamson led the shooters with 11 points, but team mate Royce White and Frazier were right behind with 10 apiece. Frazier opened the 2nd quarter with 3 and a freebie to cut the London lead to 2. The Express guard followed up with 2 in the paint moments later.
“Chad [Frazier] has a heck of a night,” Jones said. “He had some big shots for us and he had 28 [points].”
London gave up battling inside and reverted to dropping shots from beyond the arc. Windsor, however, made too many trips up court without anything to show for it. The Lightning zapped into a 53-42 lead by the 6:20 mark.
Coming back from a timeout, Rayson hit a 3-pointer to rile up the crowd. Shaquille Keith drew a foul but dropped just one from the line. He did drain a fade that left him sprawled on the hardwood, and then pushed a trey which hit nothing but net. Damontre Harris’ drive to the net put Windsor in front 56-55. Timeout London.
The crowd had enjoyed a Doug Herring Jr attempt at a jam on a quick break. The ball rebounded back to centre where Frazier fed Harris under the iron for the easy bucket. At the end of the half the teams were knotted at 62.
The Express shot the lights out hitting at 80% from 3-point range. They also dropped an identical 80% from the penalty stripe while London hit a dismal 71% for the half on 14 free throws.
Facing their nemesis, the 3rd quarter, the Express managed to combine stingy defense with sharp shooting from outside. In short order, Windsor moved into an 11-point lead, led by Rayson from long distance. As well, Keith and Stutz worked the paint with great effectiveness.
London, stepped up the pressure in the latter half of the period, harassing Windsor’s point guards at every chance. The Lightning took advantage of some miscues and were able to close the gap to 3 points by the end of the 12 minutes.
The 4th frame saw the same tough play from both sides. Most of the elbows were caught by the officials, but not all of them. The Express inched their way into a 96-88 lead with 5:39 on the clock. Rayson and Frazier were deadly from outside and Keith owned the paint.
“I’m just happy we won,” Keith said. “The team went out there and we played together from the start. London came in and hit some shots, but once we got our legs under us and started to rotate properly, we adjusted. After that it was just X’s and O’s.”
Windsor worked their way back into an 11-point lead but a series of aggressive guarding and offensive rebounding by London narrowed that to just 3. A timeout by London with 1:39 left set up the home stretch.
The Express went into full time-waste mode which signaled the fans to be as loud as they could. Windsor eased into a third straight win over the Lightning, 110-100, snapping London’s 5-game winning streak.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Jones. “They had their best player back in the lineup. The two games that we beat them, they didn’t have Royce [White]. To be able to come out and grind out a win today was special for us.”
In addition to Frazier’s 28 points, Keith picked up 25 and Rayson 18 off the bench. Starting centre Harris, who his Windsor’s first two baskets of the game, picked up 11 points.
The big story was the play of Stutz, who was a rebounding dervish, swiping the glass for 18 boards to go along with 18 points.
White was the go-to guy for London, dropping 28 to match Frazier. He was joined by Wiliamson and Mo Bolden with 15 apiece and Williams with 10 from the bench.
Windsor now has back-to-back games scheduled against Kitchener, starting with a home date this Friday at 7pm.