(SUDBURY, ON) For the third time in four days, the Sudbury Five were welcoming the Central Division leaders to the Sudbury Arena.


After taking down the first place Edge on Monday, the Five welcomed the newly crowned division leaders, the Windsor Express on Thursday.


The Five entered Thursday’s game once again without the services of guard Jaylen Bland. Bland missed his fifth straight game nursing a lower body injury and is expected to make his return to the lineup in the team’s final home stand of the season in late March.


The offense was firing for both teams to start the game. The Express and the Five continued to trade shots, staying within a basket of each other until late in the first quarter. The Five ended the quarter on a 9-2 run to take an early seven-point lead. Braylon Rayson led the way with 19 points, while Travis Releford added in 12 of his own. The Five moved into the second up 39-32.


While the offense was red hot in the first, the opposite was the case in the second. The Five shot for just 30.4% from the field to score only 20 points in the quarter. The Express offense also struggled, scoring only 26 points on 12-29 shooting. Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson led the way with five points for the Five, while Horace Wormely led all players with seven points. After the first 24 minutes, the Five were up one, 59-58.


The Express were chugging to start the third quarter, opening the frame on a 13-3 run. The Five fell to as many as 15 in the third. The resilient Five continued to battle back, ultimately cutting the lead to just three points as time expired in the third quarter. Braylon Rayson had seven points in the third, while Mo Jones Sr. added in six. The Five entered the fourth down three, 86-83.


The close game got even closer, with the Five tying things up just 30 seconds into the fourth. The Five and Express exchanged shots back-and-forth as neither team looked to give up any chance to score on each possession. The Express began to look comfortable, maintaining a five-point lead through the quarter, but a Braylon Rayson jump shot, and a three on back-to-back possessions tied the game up. Braylon Rayson went to work in the fourth, scoring 20 points in the fourth when it mattered most. Mo Jones Sr. and Cory Dixon both scored six as the Five took important victory 126-123.


Braylon Rayson finished the game with a franchise record 49 points on Thursday. Rayson’s 49 were 9 points shy of the NBL Canada record of 58, set by Carl English of the St. John’s Edge last season. Braylon’s efforts Thursday earned him BOSS Supplements Sudbury BOSS of the night honours.


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