(Sydney, NS) Almost two weeks prior to the Five taking the court in Cape Breton, the Highlanders delivered a heart-breaking last-minute loss to the Sudbury Five at home. Friday was the Five’s opportunity to do the same to the Highlanders.
The Highlanders entered Friday’s contest as the top team in the National Basketball League of Canada with a record of 14-7. The Highlanders were the league’s hottest team in December, winning seven straight games to sky rocket to the top of the standings. A mid-season candidate for league MVP, Bruce Massey Jr. was looking to lead the Highlanders to their fourth straight win.
The Five came into Friday’s contest fresh off a victory on Wednesday to the Saint John Riptide. Braylon Rayson was looking to follow up his 34-point performance with another strong effort on Friday to help the Five piece back-to-back wins together for the first time since December 13th.
Both teams’ enjoyed strong start to the game, playing within one basket of each other until the Highlanders pulled slightly away with just under two minutes to play. League leading scorer Braylon Rayson had a great first quarter for the Five, leading all players with 12 points. Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson also had a strong quarter with six points on perfect shooting. The Five came out of the first down five, 27-22.
The league’s number one ranked offense came to play in the second. Led by Cory Dixon’s 11 and Jaylen Bland’s nine, the Five scored 31 points in the second quarter. The Five collected virtually every rebound on both sides of the court, providing the offense with additional opportunities, and limiting any offensive chances for the Highlanders. Cory Dixon led the way on the glass with six rebounds, while Travis Releford and Yohanny Dalembert both collected four. After two, the Five were up five, 53-48.
The Five offense continued to stay red hot in the third, but it was the team’s strong defense for a second straight quarter that was a welcome surprise. The Five held the highlanders to 19 points in the second, and only 25 in the third to continue to grow the lead. Cory Dixon and Travis Releford both added eight points to lead the Five offense. After three quarters, the Five were up thirteen, 84-71.
The flood gates for both teams were wide open in the fourth. The Five scored 32 points, marking the third 30+ point quarter of the game for Sudbury, while the Highlanders offense exploded for 35 points. The Five were led by Braylon Rayson, who once again had a dominant performance in the fourth quarter of a game. Rayson led the Five with 12 points while Travis Releford added in ten of his own. Silver Spring, MD native Deshaunt Walker led the Highlanders with 14 points in the final frame. The deficit was too much for the Highalnders, and the Five came away with the win, 116-106.
The Five now pack their bags and return to Ontario for a Sunday afternoon showdown with the defending champion London Lightning. Game time is 2:05 PM. Fans can watch all the action LIVE and FREE at www.nblclive.ca.