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ORANGEVILLE, ON - When the game got started the A’s made sure to get the ball in the paint to generate scoring opportunities. With 12 of their 16 1st quarter points coming from down low, Orangeville felt they had an early advantage over the visiting Express. The teams exchanged baskets for the first half of the quarter but eventually Windsor managed to go on a run resulting in as much as a 10-point deficit for the home team. Their problems came from their perimeter defense in particular as Windsor’s Warren Ward lit up the scoreboard with an impressive 75% shooting display from behind the arc (3-4 3PT) and contributed 11 of the team’s 24 in the first. Unfortunately, for the A’s, they went cold midway through the 1st and their 32% shooting put them in a tough position ending the frame. They did manage to cut the deficit behind a long-range shot by Rick Bodiford but were still outscored in the first frame by 8-points.
Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was Player of the Game with 20 pts, 11 ast and 6 reb
Starting the 2nd quarter trailing by 8, the A’s put together a strong 8-1 run to quickly close the gap with their opponents. Stefan Nastic was the focal point of the A’s offense (8p) and his offensive leadership was equally met with his hustle on the glass, leading the team in rebounds by halftime with 10. The aggression displayed by the A’s and their ability to clean up the glass quickly turned into transition scoring and more than a handful of 2nd chance points (12). The A’s took the lead but had trouble securing it since Warren Ward (17p, 5-8 3PT) was still doing damage to the Orangeville defense. In response, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was a big contributor to an A’s 2nd quarter push and he looked to get to the rim as often as possible. Although the team didn’t shoot particularly well from the line in the first half (62%), his baskets often came at crucial momentum-shifting opportunities and his team leading 9-points helped Orangeville to a 41-40 lead at halftime.
The halftime break energized both squads as the game got increasingly physical. The style of play seemed to benefit the A’s considering that they played the game from the interior from the outset. Their 12-point advantage in points in the paint reflected the excellent play from their big men. What started as a 1-point lead quickly grew to as much as 8 within the first few minutes and Slim Magee (9p) played valuable minutes off the bench during that run. On the defensive end however, they began to waiver during a late response by the Express in the last 3 minutes of the quarter. Maurice Jones (11p) and Jernard Jarreau (8p) caused problems for the A’s defense and, in turn put Windsor back on top.
Now beginning the 4th quarter trailing by 1, the A’s had to reclaim the lead in the last frame. Windsor’s DeAndre Thomas was the one to cause the trouble for the Orangeville defense with his combination of size and ability to hit the mid-range shot but on the other end of the Hollis-Jefferson continued to shoulder the load offensively for the Orangeville side. Exchanging leads until the final minutes, Orangeville finally made a push towards the finish and held an 8-point lead with only 50 seconds remaining. However, the game is never over until the final buzzer sounds and Windsor made sure to play until that moment. It proved fruitful for them and a few timely turnovers along with a late basket by Thomas tied up the game at 88, which forced overtime.
Even with the extra time, a winner didn’t seem to emerge after a few possessions. Both sides matched each other’s baskets. Defensive intensity was remarkable for both sides but once again Hollis-Jefferson (20p, 11a, 6r) found himself involved in practically every play on both ends. Alex Johnson (8p, 9a, 4r) also played a key role throughout the contest and his team-leading 9 assists helped create many of the scoring opportunities Orangeville benefitted from. Even when taking a 3-point lead in the last 30 seconds behind a few free throws by Stefan Nastic (16p, 17r, 6a), the game remained in the balance with Windsor having an opportunity to force another period of play. In the end the A’s defense stood firm and the last second heave by Windsor fell short, giving the A’s the 98-95 victory.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Dominated the paint: Orangeville scored 48 points from down low, outscoring Windsor by 12
2nd look: A’s cleaned the offensive boards on their way to 24 second chance points
Team Effort: 5 A’s finished in double figures scoring along with 27 assists on 36 made shots.
NEXT GAME: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8TH, 2017 - ORANGEVILLE A'S AT NIAGARA RIVER LIONS - 7:00 PM EST
NEXT HOME GAME: SUNDAY, MARCH 12TH - ORANGEVILLE A'S VS. LONDON LIGHTNING - 3:00 PM EST